Dogs help CCF geneticists study cheetahs without invading their space

Publication Year:

Dogs have helped humans in numerous different ways for thousands of years - from guarding our livestock against predators and providing companionship to rescuing people from danger and fighting crime - there is little that our canine friends cannot do. But did you know that they also help us to conserve endangered species? This relatively new role for dogs relies on their detection abilities. But instead of looking for bombs, suspects or drugs, we train them to look for carnivore poop - known to researchers as scat. You heard that right: dogs sniffing for scat can help carnivore conservation! Sounds strange? Let us explain. Our scientists at the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) are engaged in the research and development of non-invasive census techniques, so that better conservation decisions can be made without handling any of our research animals. Non-invasive techniques can be used to gather important biomedical data that is otherwise only gained through live capture and anaesthesia, which is more expensive, requires the presence of a veterinarian, and is stressful for the animal. Like most other carnivore researchers worldwide, CCF deploys camera traps to determine population demography and density in a non-invasive manner. Going beyond camera traps, CCF is pioneering the use of scat detection dogs to help study cheetahs; this approach to collecting data about elusive species is gaining popularity around the world. The scat found by these dogs can provide species and gender identification, insights on reproduction and health, and it can be used to determine a predator's diet, which is vital information to evaluate human-wildlife conflict situations.

Publication Title:

Conservation and the Environment in Namibia

Namibia Chamber of Environment (NCE) and Venture Media
Item Type:
Book or Magazine Section

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