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K9 Project Enters Second Phase in the Galapagos

Dogs now active on two of the three designated islands

Report by Captain Alex Cornelissen, Director of Operations, Galapagos

In Ecuador, Sea Shepherd cooperates with a government that is very interested in protecting the environment and our projects reflect that. Our main goal for 2009 is the deployment of the K9 units on the three most populated islands in the Galapagos Marine Reserve.

In February, we completed the training sessions and the dogs began their work on the most populated island, Santa Cruz. Their job is to search for illegal shark fins, seahorses, sea lion penises, and sea cucumbers. Presently all cargo leaving Galapagos through official channels is being monitored.

Checking outgoing luggageChecking outgoing luggage
at Baltra airport
Checking cargo
Checking outgoing cargo

On Friday, April 24th, preparations on San Cristobal were completed and three of the teams were transported to this island. For the official acceptance, I went over to San Cristobal accompanied by Marcel Bigue, Project Developer Galapagos for fellow project sponsor, Wildaid.

arrival of dogs
The arrival of two of the dog teams at the kennels

San Cristobal is the island that houses the central government. It is also were the head of police and the navy are stationed and therefore of extreme importance for this project.

In the past month, Sea Shepherd has supervised the construction of kennels and made the required preparations for the arrival of the guides and dogs.

The head of police for Galapagos, Colonel Rocha, is very pleased with the arrival of the dogs to San Cristobal. He is well aware of the importance of this pilot project and has committed to giving his full support.

We are about to start construction of the kennels on the last of the three islands, Isabela. It is the most difficult of all islands involved, as this is where most of the poaching takes place.

The police will begin random controls throughout the islands in the coming weeks.

Sea Shepherd Galapagos is looking for additional sponsorship for this project to cover building expenses in Isabela and to acquire a fast launch to help the police get to remote poaching locations.

Operations group
From left to right: Scott West, criminal investigator for Sea Shepherd; Benjamin Ayala,
Sea Shepherd volunteer on San Cristobal; Lieutenant Hernandez,
head of the San Cristobal K9 unit; Colonel Rocha, head of police Galapagos;
Captain Alex Cornelissen, director of operations Sea Shepherd Galapagos

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