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It took Gage roughly six seconds to find the tiny piece of ivory hidden on the underside of our vehicle. Gage, a Labrador retriever, specializes in finding ivory and firearms, helping his handlers in the Mara Triangle, the northwestern portion of Kenya’s renowned Maasai Mara National Reserve, reduce the options for wildlife poachers to enter with weapons or exit with ivory.

On World Ranger Day 2018, we recognize the rangers in many protected areas who face a nearly impossible task. A small cadre of rangers with limited equipment must know and patrol vast areas of forest, savanna or desert, and monitor multiple entry points, against often more numerous and better-equipped poachers and other intruders.

Dogs like Gage, with their outsized capacity to sniff out even well-hidden people and objects, are helping rangers at several major reserves to do their jobs better.