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Bloodhounds track elephant poachers in Virunga National Park

Note: This post includes a graphic image of a dead elephant.

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Rangers train a dog at Virunga Park. The Democratic Republic of Congo's famed Virunga National Park has deployed bloodhounds to track down elephant poachers, a park official said Monday."The first operation of the specially-trained bloodhounds was launched after a succession of elephant-poaching incidents," LuAnne Cadd, the park's public relations officer, told AFP.

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A picture released by Virunga National Park shows Marlene Zahner and Marcel Maierhofer posing with rangers and their six dogs at Virunga Park.

Msnbc.com's Miguel Llanos reports that the bloodhounds were able to track poachers despite heavy animal traffic at the poaching site

Rangers decided to use the elephant carcass to track the poachers "but the tracks were blended in with the passage of every hyena and every lion in the neighbourhood," Merode wrote in the blog. "On top of that, Dodi and Lily (the two dogs) took one look at the carcass and bolted. It’s not surprising as the carcass looked terrifying and had a horrific stench."

A ranger "spent a good half hour talking to Dodi and reassuring her," he added. "He was able to convince her, and she came in.  He used a bone as the scent item, and after twenty minutes searching for a trail, they took off."

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AFP - Getty Images

A picture released by Virunga National Park shows rangers and their dog looking at the large bloated carcass of an adult elephant laying in the bushes by a river in the Ishasha Valley. The Park said "it was clearly an ivory poaching incident, the tusks had been hacked out of the elephant's face." The UN watchdog into the illegal wildlife trade last week voiced "grave concern" at a spike in African elephant poaching after nearly 450 of the animals were killed in Cameroon. "This spike in elephant poaching is of grave concern not only to Cameroon, a member state to CITES, but to all 38 range states of the African elephant," John Scanlon, the head of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), said. The UN agency said it will contact the ministers responsible for forests and wildlife from Cameroon, Chad, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sudan to offer anti-poaching support.