In the middle of a bushfire crisis, Australia is struggling to save as many lives as possible from the horrifying flames that keep raging on its territory.
Images of the terrible consequences of the unstoppable hell have shocked the world. People from all around the Globe offer their help by donating money, sending clothing and household goods, volunteering, organizing fund-raising events, and starting crowdfunding campaigns.
The fires have destroyed over 6 million hectares (14.8m acres) of land in the states of New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria, killed at least 23 people, and about half a billion animals since September.
Experts fear that they have done the biggest damage to the koala population. In an attempt to escape the flames, koalas flee to the top of trees, so rescuers cannot easily spot them and rescue them.
However, a pair of koala sniffing dogs is of great help here, a border collie cross, named Bear, and a springer spaniel, Taylor.
Bear is working with non-profit IFAW Australia and has been trained to detect and rescue koalas at the University of the Sunshine Coast. He was abandoned by his original owners, but now, he has found a new purpose as a conservation detection dog.
The energetic pup is now a member of a team that does ground research and monitoring of koalas in the wild.
Bear’s trainer, Romane Cristescu, says:
“Bear is a happy soul, always keen to be on the move and do something. His worst nightmare is to be left behind when you go to work—luckily for him, we are allowed to bring our dogs to work every day.”
Wildlife Campaigner for IFAW, Joey Sharrad, explained:
“A dog’s sense of smell is 10,000 times stronger than that of humans. By successfully training Bear to locate koalas means that we can now work faster and with great accuracy to protect them.
Now more than ever, every individual koala matters for the future of the species, so we are delighted that the world now sees Bear for what he is, a wildlife hero.”
The other hero, Taylor, has already saved eight koalas by detecting the scent of their scat or fur. The four-year-old springer spaniel comes from a family whose members all work in animal detection.
She was also trained to scent quolls, foxes, cats, rabbits, and rats, and to mark for predators nearby when working.
The dogs stand under the tree and alert volunteers and aid workers to spot the animal above, and rescue it.