The earthquakes in Turkey and Syria have reconfirmed one of the oldest alliances signed by humans and have highlighted the value of dogs in searching for victims under the rubble. It shouldn't take a misfortune like this for us to keep in mind our most faithful allies since the dawn of time, says the Spanish NGO Héroes de 4 patas, which is looking for a home for an exemplary dog, Holly.
The Jane Godall Institute of the Congo works in this African country for the protection of biodiversity. Its members, inspired by the philosophy of the legendary ethologist Jane Godall (London, 1934), who is still active, rescue wild animals to return them to their natural habitat. They also carry out environmental education activities and manage a protected reserve. But of course they need help...
Whose help? Well, from incorruptible allies like Holly, a brindle Belgian shepherd who has been an irreplaceable tool for the institute's workers. The trafficking of species such as the pangolin moves dizzying sums around the world. Holly inspected the cars that entered and left the reserve in search of protected species, not only this mammal that many know about because of the covid pandemic.
Holly's prodigious sense of smell is also capable of detecting gunpowder and the presence of other animals in trunks, such as monkeys, parrots, turtles, civets or baby crocodiles and antelopes, among others. Many people without resources resort to this illicit trade to try to get out of misery. It's bread for today and hungry for tomorrow. The business only really enriches the mafias, who pay a pittance to those who supply them.
The natural wealth of these lands is a source of profit and a powerful tourist attraction, so those who deplete their animal life and practice poaching erode one of the main ways to escape poverty. Holly tried her best to avoid it for over 10 years. She was trained when she was three of hers and hers is a case of unusual working longevity. But her body has said enough.
He needed to rest, as well as an urgent intervention to cure a problem in one leg. The fame of the non-profit organization Héroes de 4 patas, which we already talked about here, has reached Gongo. This NGO works so that dogs trained by the police, firefighters, army and rescue services, among others, have a dignified retirement and live out their last days surrounded by the warmth of a family.
Those responsible for the Jane Godall Institute contacted the spokespersons of the Spanish entity who happily accepted the challenge. Holly arrived in our country a few days ago and has already been operated on. When the recovery process is over, a suitable family will be selected to take care of it. Holly will no longer protect the chimpanzees at the Tchimpounga Rehabilitation Center, but she has successors.
Other dogs, like Loup or Kivuli, who have learned by her side, will continue to do the work that she did for so long. Holly was the oldest member of the canine unit and displayed extraordinary versatility. Not only was she a nightmare for traffickers of protected species, a business as lucrative as drug or arms trafficking, but she also declared war and denounced numerous poachers.
A live animal is relatively difficult to hide, but gunpowder and ammunition can be hidden almost anywhere. It was virtually impossible, however, for poachers to find a hiding place that would fool Holly's prodigious senses. Dogs don't see the world, they smell it. She inspected the cars that accessed particularly sensitive areas and was never wrong in her markings.
Intercepted hunters not only lost their ammunition, but were forced off the reserve and prevented from returning. This work has had a notable preventative impact on the local population, underlines the Jane Godall Institute, which could not have found better guardian angels for Holly than those of 4-legged heroes. The collaboration between both entities closes a circle that began almost 30 years ago.
A still young Jan Godall made a visit to the Congo at the end of the 20th century, where she was horrified to discover a baby chimpanzee, almost dying and tied up in a street stall. Her mother had been killed for her meat; and the calf, "which was in the bones", was sold as a pet. Dr. Godall rescued her, provided her with medical care and a haven where she could grow up in safety, the Tchimpounga Reserve.
This center was one of the places where Holly actualized an ancient pact, the one that our ancestors and the dogs signed thousands and thousands of years ago, when some lost puppies approached the camp of some strange two-legged helpless beings and swore to them eternal fidelity in exchange for a few leftovers and a little love. Their descendants are saving the lives of people in Turkey and animals in Congo today.