Article by Raise Vegan
A sniffer dog called Bear — who has been trained to find the scent of koalas — has joined the effort to save these animals from the raging Australian bushfires.
A team of researchers who study koalas trained Bear to sniff out the animals, and they are now counting on him to find at-risk koalas that can be rescued.
When Bear detects the scent of a koala, he will drop silently to the ground and wait — he is then rewarded with a ball and allowed to play.
Koalas are unable to move quickly, and are therefore being affected more than many other animals who are better equipped to escape the flames.
Although the rescue efforts are slow, the team is determined to save as many lives as possible.
“Any koala at this point of time is important because as you lost a big proportion of the population, you’re going through what’s called a genetic bottleneck” explained Romane Cristescu, a koala ecologist.
“That’s bad news for animals, because the more diversity they have, the better they are at being resilient to any future change.”
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Experts have estimated that the animal death toll will eventually be in the billions — although one professor puts the figure in the trillions.
“With currently over 18 million acres ablaze, the reality is that we have little idea about the true damage they will cause or to the full extent of their ecological legacy” said Professor Ben Garrod.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has called the Australian bushfires “the most devastating bushfire season the country has ever seen.”
The WWF predicts that “as many as 8,400 koalas may have already perished in the fire” in New South Wales alone.
Have you been following the rescue efforts? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!