Zorba, India’s first dog deployed to track down poachers, passed away in Guwahati on November 21st due to old age. The 12-year-old canine was a member of Aaranyak’s ‘K9’, India’s first dog squad for wildlife crimes.
In his eight-year-long service, Zorba helped wildlife officials track down more than 60 poachers in Assam. He assisted authorities in catching rhino poachers in Kaziranga National Park. Zorba was so good at his job that other national parks -Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, and Orang National Park also used his services.
Rest in peace: Zorba anti-poaching dog
After retiring from active service in December 2019, Zorba was in Aaranyak’s K9 unit centre, healing for age-related illnesses. He was honoured with a traditional Assamese ‘gamosa’ (sacred cloth) and a citation on Independence Day this year.
In one incident in Orang National Park, Zorba chased the suspect’s scent from the crime scene to the poacher’s house, leading to the arrest.
‘‘Our K9 squad, including Zorba, helped forest officials locate poachers’ exit routes following rhino poaching incidents, resulting in arrests of the culprits by police and forest officials. Zorba’s contribution during his lifetime will always be remembered and we will always regard him as a conservation hero.”
~ Dr Bibhab Kumar Talukdar, the CEO of Aaranyak, and wildlife crime expert
The Kaziranga National Park in Assam, India is home to some of the world’s most endangered animals, including tigers, rhinos, and elephants. Park authorities have enlisted the help of local communities as well as dog squads to help protect these animals from poachers.
This K9 squad for wildlife crimes was set up in Assam in 2011 by the biodiversity organisation Aaranyak. The squad consists of trained dogs who help track down and apprehend criminals involved in wildlife crimes like poaching. They assist forest and police officials in the national parks ― Kaziranga, Manas National Park and other rhino-inhabited areas to nab poachers. The squad has been successful in apprehending many criminals and has helped to reduce the number of wildlife crimes in Assam.
Sad as the passing of Zorba is, we can only reflect in recognition of what an impact he made on rhino protection. Zorba was a hero protecting wildlife. Here’s hoping humans draw inspiration from him, RIP Zorba.