Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The World's First Perlemoen Snuffel-Hond

It's not a new breed of dog. It's a border collie named Tammy, an abalone sniffer-dog.

Perlemoen is the Afrikaaner name for abalone, a particularly succulent and expensive delicacy that was once abundant along the South African coastline. Since the 1990's, brazen poaching syndicates, many with ties to organized crime, have been shipping it off to China by the ton (2000 tons in 2012, with a market value of 1.2 billion Rand, or very roughly $120,000,000), and have succeeded in reducing its numbers so dramatically that it is now on the endangered species list.
After convincing his superiors in the police department that a dog might be able to help, Sgt. Jon Hennop rescued Tammy from the pound and trained her to sniff out abalone. In September of 1997 she received her uniform and began her duties as the official Protected Fish Species Investigation Dog.

A South African "snuffel-hond"
I couldn't find a picture of Tammy herself.
On her first day of work, Tammy recovered 300 kg. of perlemoen. On another occasion she found 1 1/2 tons at the Johannesburg airport. She quickly began receiving death threats from the Syndicate, who put out a contract of R50,000 on her.

Gordon's Bay Harbor, where much of the poaching took place.
Tammy then got a bodyguard, a German Shepherd police dog named Mac, who had experience working against drug dealers.

I couldn't find out anything about Tammy's later exploits. I know she was successful enough that 4 years later the department had hired 4 dogs, and was training them to look for poached ivory, as well as abalone.

Since South Africa has 3000 miles of coastline, 60% of which can support abalone, it sounds as though they'll need hundreds of dogs to police it adequately.

The coastline is incredibly beautiful. Here are some photos of the "Perlemoen Trail:"