A dog's nose knows
Dogs have a lot more smell receptors than humans, making them ideal for locating wildlife. The right dog can be trained to track anything that emits an odour, whether it’s flora or fauna, on land or even under the sea!
Because they can smell what we can’t see, dogs are used in conservation to track and help rescue rare animals such as koalas, quolls and masked owls, to detect pest species, and locate threatened native plants.
The work of the USC Detection Dog team has an immediate and profound impact, with the team often helping to locate injured, malnourished or isolated wildlife after severe natural disasters such as the 2019/20 Australian bushfires.
As fire-ravaged areas recover, our Detection Dog team will continue monitoring the safety of koalas as their sources of food and water remain scarce.
The USC Detection Dogs for Conservation team’s vision is to provide the training and deployment of detection dogs at no cost, to ensure the protection of threatened species of wildlife in Australia.
Of equal importance is to expand the critical role the team plays in providing vital ecological research, evidence and support to help governments and private organisations make planning and development decisions that can protect and preserve – rather than threaten – Australia’s unique environment and creatures.
The USC Detection Dogs for Conservation team was founded in 2015 by USC researcher Dr Romane Cristescu and Associate Professor Celine Frere. Dr Cristescu is also an executive member of the Australian Conservation Dog Network, which includes representatives from universities, non-profit organisations, governments, zoos, research institutions and businesses.
In the future we would love to see everyday Australians become citizen scientists, using the Bluetooth devices to track and contribute to research the supports animal welfare – whether its koalas, water dragon, quolls, or other at-risk species. These are the animals whose loss of habitat forces them into urban areas.
Heat-monitoring drones and tracking devices could send messages to households who have registered with a central database, alerting them to a koala or other threatened species in their backyard and asking them to lock away their dog or other domestic animal while the koala or other at-risk animal passes through.
This kind of technology exists here, today. To make it work, we need to be able to locate, capture, tag and release our wildlife – and they don’t always make it easy for us!
Most of the animals we locate are cryptic creatures, so they are good at hiding. But with enough time and the right amount of financial support, we can support animal welfare and protect their habitat.
Your donation will make all the difference!