Dog Sniffs out Tigers

It’s In the News Thursday!

Maggie, a German Wirehaired Pointer has arrived in Cambodia to sniff out some tigers. More specifically, tiger droppings.

Maggie is going to be scouring the underbrush and sniffing the trees of the  at the 1,158 square mile Seima Biodiversity Conservation Area in northeastern Cambodia.

The tiger population of Asia has seen drastic decline over the last century dropping from over 100,00o to approximately 5,000. The decrease is largely due to loss of habitat and poaching. It is not known how many tigers still exist in Cambodia.

Maggie was brought in after cameras and fireld surveys failed to find evidence of a any big cats in the area. The last sign of a tiger was when a pawprint was spotted in the park in 2007.

“The effort to find tiger droppings is part of a larger campaign by conservationists worldwide to mine animal droppings for genetic information such as DNA that can save endangered species.

Elephant dung, for example, was used two years ago to calculate the population of pachyderms in Malaysia’s Taman Negara National Park.

Now, researchers are hoping the tiger scat will help determine the existence of tigers in Seima along with their sex, age and whether any are pregnant or even under threat.

“As we gain the technology to extract things from scat like DNA and hormones, all of sudden scat becomes a gold mine of information,” said Linda Kerley, a WCS consultant who trained the dogs in Russia.

O’Kelly said the data from the dung would allow researchers to establish a baseline population of tigers for the reserve and then develop a conservation plan based on the numbers and the potential threats.”

Cambodia is the first country in Asia to use dogs in the search for tigers. The method did prove successful in Russia’s Far East that led to an accurate count of hundreds of tigers spread across the region’s several thousand miles.

Since then, dogs have been used to search for jaguars in South America and leopards in Africa.

What if the dog does not find any scat? Sadly enough no scat=no more cat.

For the sake of the big cats, here’s hoping you find some tiger poo, Maggie!

PhotobucketMaggie in Cambodia


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