Working Dogs for Conservation

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Working Dogs for Conservation is a leading detection dog organization focused on wildlife conservation, but unlike many other detection dogs programs, WD4C does not breed dogs but rescues them from animal shelters in the U.S.

Building upon techniques from narcotics detection, cadaver detection, and search and rescue, WD4C has pioneered ways to use dogs’ extraordinary sense of smell to protect wildlife and wild places.

WD4C’s co-founders were the first to train dogs to detect wide-ranging carnivores non-invasively, to uncover illegal snares in Africa, and to find invasive plants, insects, and fish. WD4C is at the forefront of the fight against wildlife trafficking, training dogs to detect ammunition, guns, poisons, snares, ivory, rhino horn, bushmeat, animal skins and pangolin scales.

EJF Philanthropies provided the initial funding for WD4C’s pilot project in Zambia where it partnered with South Luangwa Conservation Society (SLCS) to train and deploy detection dogs in an area that has become a known transit route for ivory poachers, and others involved in the illegal wildlife trade. WD4C’s Executive Director Pete Coppolillo and Co-Founder/Director of Research Megan Parker had worked with SCLS’s Rachel McRobb on other projects, and together they were able to create a detection dog program that has become a model for other working dog programs in Africa.  (Funding to SCLS for its costs associated with this project was provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Paul Allen Family Foundation.)

In addition to continuing to support the Zambia project, EJF Philanthropies has provided general operational support and funded a number of other WD4C initiatives, including its “Reducing Health Hazards to Working Dogs in Africa” project. As part of this project, WD4C organized and convened two veterinary conferences in Nairobi and Johannesburg in 2015, which were attended by over 120 participants from 13 countries involved in detection dog programs throughout Africa as well as by veterinary and conservation experts from several African countries and the U.S.