Conservation Canines Trained To Sniff Out Tigers in Cambodia

conservation canines cambodia photo
all images courtesy WWF

For the first time, conservationists from WWF are putting dogs' superb sense of smell on the trail of tigers in Cambodia. Coming from the University of Washington Conservation Canines program, the dogs are trained to sniff out tiger poop, which gets scooped up and studied by scientists in an effort to learn about the genetic diversity of the dwindling tiger population in the Greater Mekong region of Southeast Asia.

The whole thing is being documented in the Tracking Mekong Tigers blog. It's some pretty interesting reading; makes you want to get out there and help out--at least to me. Here are excerpts and photos:

conservation canines scooby and sadie photoFrom February 17th,

Heath arrived with Max, our back-up dog, a couple days ago! We headed out into Mondulkiri for some intense dog and handler training, and to find more tiger scat. After a full few days of training, we changed our plans and all headed out on a hike north of Trapeang Chhouk.  While we all knew it was going to be a long day, we had NO idea what we were getting into.  Lets just say, 15 kilometers, 38 degrees Celsius, walking through a burned area (no shade), ran out of water, AND lost our elephant (with our supplies and a couple of rangers!). Whoa, right?! Luckily, just before sunset, the elephant and rangers arrived at the waterhole Heath and Oudom had found and we all ate a very late dinner in the dark.  The next day was spent sleeping in and taking a much needed rest for the dogs.

From February 11th,

Sadie is back to work! It's her first day since getting Tick Fever in the middle of January. She has a slow, steady and short day but does great! Scooby is raring to go and struts his stuff with a smile for Jen and Vong.
We had a surprise visit in the afternoon.  While sitting in camp, reading, trying to ignore how hot we are, we hear huge crashing noises coming through the bamboo heading straight for our river! Lo and behold, a herd of wild elephants came through the trees. 12 in total!! With 2 babies!!! It was incredible! Of course, Sadie May has to bark, scaring away the whole herd. I kid you not. Luckily we had a ranger who was quick as a muntjac and headed off after them for a couple of photos. Amazing!

From January 3rd,

Sadie and I were in some great looking habitat (big shady trees, hidden waterholes) but before I knew it she had her tail between her legs and was stopped dead, looking at something on the ground.  I noticed a very large scaly tail by my feet and told her to come. Of course, she had spooked a King Cobra causing it to rear up! Sadie made it safely back to me and Vong (my Cambodian orienteer for the day), and with shaking hands I managed to take a picture after a couple of tries.
Scooby had a record scat day! 24 detections found along low use roads and a dry drainage!! We think they are all leopard but everything counts.  Scooby, while cooling off in a water hole, scared off an otter and a fishing owl.

conservation canines hiking photo

Read more about the work of the Conservation Canines: Rhino dung-sniffing dogs
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More on Tigers:
Indonesia Allows Adoption of Sumatran Tigers as Pets for $100,000
Fewer Than 50 Wild Tigers Left In China, Says Wildlife Conservation Society
World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies Reject Tiger Bones

Tags: Cambodia | Conservation | Endangered Species


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