Elephants trained to sniff bombs, poachers and landmines in South Africa

And then afterwards, just like sniffer dogs, they’re rewarded with a treat. Read more about how elephants are being trained in the art of “bio-detection”



Chishuru, a 17-year-old male male elephant walks past a row of buckets at Mabula Game Reserve in Limpopo, while a ranger sits on his back. Stapled to the bottom of one of the buckets is a swab laced with TNT scent. Chishuru sticks his trunk into each bucket. When he comes across the bucket with the sawb he stops and raises his front leg. He gets the bucket right every time.

Chishuru is then rewarded with a marula, just like a sniffer dog would be.

Chishuru is being trained in the art of “bio-detection” in order to determine whether he can use his exceptional sense of smell to sniff out explosives, poachers and landmines.

The project is supported by the US Army Research Office and has been going for many years.

Chief scientist of the US Army Research Office, Stephen Lee said elephants have an advantage over sniffer dogs and that, elephants, true to the legend, do not forget a thing.

“Dogs require constant training while the elephants seem to understand and remember the scent without the need for constant training,” said Lee.

U.S. army researchers say that, unlike in Hannibal’s day, elephants will not be staging a return to the theatre of combat, as they will not be used in the field, reported Times Live.

“We could bring scents from the field collected by unmanned robotic systems to the elephants for evaluation,” said Lee.

Featured photo by Flickr.com/DerekKeats