The inferno that has affected Australia since September has caused irremediable consequences to its wildlife. Images of animals burnt to death, injured, dehydrated, and terrified, have shocked the world.
People from all around the world keep praying for the raging fires to stop, and numerous volunteers risk their own lives to save as many lives stuck in the fires as possible.
Experts claim that around half a billion animals have lost their lives in the flames, and the koala population has suffered the most.
Yet, the koalas that have managed to survive have a friend that is trained to locate them.
The border collie/koolie mix with striking blue eyes, named Bear, now works as a koala detection dog for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) alongside his handler, Rianna.
This dog has been quite busy as his role is to sniff out displaced, sick, orphaned and injured koalas in the wild. When he does, he alerts Rianna by sitting very still.
He was recently sent out to help Queensland Fire and Emergency Services – QFES, Queensland Koala Crusaders, and Wildcare Australia Inc. find injured koalas.
Several years ago, Bear’s owners brought him to Detection Dogs for Conservation.
According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW):
“He was brought in for assessment at about one year old. Within minutes the team knew he was “The One” they had been looking for to train on live koalas.
He is high-energy, obsessive, doesn’t like to be touched and is completely uninterested in people, which sadly means he doesn’t make the ideal family pet. But these qualities do make him a perfect candidate for a detection dog which is exactly why he was chosen.
Bear is highly focused and brilliant at focusing on one thing – his ball which is his reward, which makes him perfectly suited for the job. He also has zero prey drive which is essential for a wildlife detection dog as they need to focus purely on the scent and not the animal, ultimately ignoring the animal.”
The canine has been trained to detect live koalas, which makes him a perfect candidate during natural disasters.
IFAW spokeswoman Clare Sterling stated:
“IFAW specifically sponsors koala detection dog Bear, but there are other dogs which the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland works with, some of which are trained to sniff for koala droppings, whereas Bear is trained to sniff out koala fur and identify where there are live koalas.
As a young, intelligent and high-energy dog, his energy made him less suitable as a pet and had led him to be put up for adoption again by early owners. So training him as a koala detection dog also gives him a secure future.”