In the Bag
The global illegal wildlife trade is booming—and as with all black markets, it’s booming in secret. Illegal products from endangered species roll through the world’s airports, shipping centers and postal systems in a relentless stream: in 2013, smugglers were caught with 583 pieces of chocolate-coated ivory sealed in candy bar wrappers.
A customs official who wants to check a piece of luggage for illegal wildlife goods has to open it up and carefully pick through the contents. In contrast, a sniffer dog like Jin Kai can interpret the bag’s contents with a few quick sniffs.
Return on Investment
In March 2014, Jin Kai sniffed out several suitcases containing ivory, pangolin scales and other illegal animal products during a routine luggage inspection in Guangdong’s Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport.
Sniff 'N Play
During training, positive reinforcement helps sniffer dogs learn which scents to concentrate on, and the dogs’ handlers reward correct behavior with food or play—in Jin Kai’s case, a game of tug-of-war. Many programs start with strong odor concentrations the canines can detect easily, then progress to lighter, more difficult scents.