Murray Joins Fight For Wildlife

6 November 2014, 06:00 | Updated: 6 November 2014, 06:46

Tennis star Andy Murray is backing the fight to end poaching and the illegal wildlife trade that is threatening the survival of species such as tigers and rhinos.

The world number six seed has become a global ambassador for conservation charity WWF and will be supporting an initiative in Nepal that trains dogs to track down poaching activity in the country's Chitwan National Park.

The tennis player, well known for his love of dogs, will be raising funds throughout next year's tennis tour for the programme and in honour of his support a new puppy who will be specially trained as a sniffer dog and named Murray.

Nepal is home to tigers, rhinos and elephants, under threat from poaching for the illegal trade in their body parts such as rhino horn, and tiger bone and skin, while the country is also a key transit route for illegal animal products from India to China.

The scheme aims to prevent poachers smuggling animal parts in the area of the national park.

Murray said: "It's a shocking fact that the rise in rhino poaching increased by 7,700% between 2007 and 2013 and as few as 3,200 tiger remain in the wild so anything we can do to deter poachers is a positive step in the right direction.

"I've followed WWF's work on the illegal wildlife trade for a while now and been looking for a way to support the campaign.

"I think it's incredibly important that this trade is prevented and the sniffer dog programme seemed like the perfect venue for me to get behind.

"I know from my own dogs how clever they can be and it's fascinating how these sniffer dogs communicate with their handlers. I'm also really looking forward to going to see Murray at work at some point in the near future.''

Heather Sohl, chief species adviser at WWF-UK, said: "We're delighted that Andy has joined us in our quest to fight the illegal wildlife trade and this programme seems the perfect fit for him.

"We're looking forward to sharing news of Murray's progress with him as well as from the wider team of sniffer dogs in Nepal.

"Illegal wildlife products are often difficult to detect so it is vital if we are to stop the trade for us to continually find new ways of identifying products being transported across the borders.

"With the right training, sniffer dogs can be used to trace wildlife parts, such as rhino horn, tiger bones and tiger skins.''