Scent of a Poacher: Bloodhounds Track Elephant Killers in the Congo

Virunga National Park's first line of defense against killer poachers? Carla, Stella, Lila, Dodi, and Lily.

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Scent of a Poacher: Bloodhounds Track Elephant Killers in the Congo
Listen up, elephant poachers: these bloodhouds are on you trail. (Photo: Congohounds)

Jowly, floppity and furrowed, Carla, Stella, Lila, Dodi, and Lily make up undoubtedly the cutest crime-fighting team ever. The bloodhounds—aka Congohounds—fight dangerous elephant and gorilla poachers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In addition to tracking poachers, the Congohounds also help park staff locate lost and critically injured rangers.

Last week, after aerial surveillance spotted a dead elephant that had been killed for its tusks, Dodi, Lilly and their handlers rushed to the scene. The dogs managed to pick up the scent of the killers. When the rangers and pups caught up with the suspects, the poachers opened fire, then dropped their weapons and fled.

If the Congohound program is successful, it could be expanded to areas such as Cameroon, which has suffered 200-450 elephant deaths in the last several months.