Image credit: Rhian vK, used under Creative Commons license
Whether it's celebrity chefs feasting on endangered birds or wildlife smugglers trafficking in protected species, you'd think rare animals would have enough to worry about these days. So why would anyone even think of letting dogs loose in sensitive habitat areas? It turns out that for some species this might be the very key to survival.According to Sue Corfield over at The Independent, conservation dogs are being used to track down endangered species. Just as dogs' finely tuned sense of smell can be used to detect drugs or bombs, they can also help conservationists and researchers find the animals they are looking to protect or—often more importantly—signs of their existence:
"Documenting the location and number of rare animals isn't easy. Conservation Dogs is the UK's first organisation to train and use pooches to find endangered species, or rather their signs - such as droppings, carcasses or nests - to aid researchers in their goals of eco research, management and conservation."
On another interesting green angle, conservation dogs are being deployed to locate bat carcasses around wind farms, helping researchers establish an accurate picture of bat deaths and, hopefully, what can be done to address them. See Animal Planet's Top 10 Hardest Working Dogs for more on these amazing creatures can do and, while you are at it, take a look at their Endangered Species Guide for more on why this work matters so much.
More on Conservation and Endangered Species
Malaysian Smugglers Nabbed with Hundreds of Lizards
Bizarre Bird Smuggling Case Lands Two Men in Jail
Life on the Endangered Species Waiting List
Obama Protecting Fewer Endangered Species than Bush