["Numbers rule the universe," Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras said. For the month of May, 13.7 Billion Years will reprise the theme from September 2010, presenting a new number to think about each weekday with the series Crunching Numbers.]
Bloodhounds have one of the most sensitive noses in the world. It's no surprise they are prized police dogs, particularly for search and rescue (SAR) missions.
One of the earliest attempts to use bloodhounds in detective work was in 1888, when Sir Charles Warren, the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in London, performed a test with a pair of bloodhounds during the search for Jack the Ripper. Though the test was a failure—one of the dogs bit Sir Warren and they both ending up running away—many of today's police forces use them.
And they are quickly becoming the best friends of the rangers in Virunga National Park, a 7,800-square-kilometer (3,011-square-mile) World Heritage Site on the eastern border of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Virunga is home to approximately 200 of the world's critically endangered mountain gorillas who live on the slopes of the Virunga volcano range. And bloodhounds, known as "Congohounds," are helping park rangers track, apprehend and arrest poachers.
"I've owned bloodhound dogs for the last 37 years—almost all my life—and worked at training them for the last 20 years," said Congohounds Project Leader Marlene Zahner. "Bloodhounds are my favorite kind of dogs."
"They're independent and if they focus on a goal, they’ll get it," she says. "They have strong personalities so they don’t really need to be aggressive dogs. They’re affectionate but not in a dependent way." She adds, "I'm just still, after all these years, impressed with what they can do. And I still don't know how they do it.”
Read more about the Congohounds: http://congohounds.gorillacd.org/
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image: Congohounds with Congohound Project Leader Marlene Zahner and Virunga Park Rangers (Congohounds)