Australia is home to some of the most diverse and wondrous native wildlife on the planet. But, unfortunately, there are currently hundreds of local species facing potential extinction in the not-so-far future.
This list of vulnerable creatures includes the Mountain Pygmy-possum (adorable), the Orange-bellied Parrot (cute as hell), the Southern Corroboree Frog (I mean, look at this guy) and more. All of these animals contribute to the rich and colourful biodiversity this country has to offer, which is why conservation is so vital right now.
There’s no time to waste in helping flip the switch on extinctions. Luckily for us, Zoos Victoria is currently spearheading a bunch of programs that are making the future a lot brighter for Australian wildlife.
One of their most adorable programs is their ‘Guardian Dog Squad’, where they train Maremma dogs to prevent the extinction of the Eastern Barred Bandicoot. Eastern Barred Bandicoots were once widespread across the basalt plains of south-western Victoria. However, they are now at risk of widespread extinction because of habitat loss and predation from introduced species like foxes.
Maremmas — aside from just oozing with good vibes — are a breed of dog from Italy used for centuries to guard livestock. They’re considered the ultimate conservation work doggo because they can pretty much bond with any animal and defend them from predators. Zoos Victoria’s Guardian Dogs are bonded with sheep who live in the paddock where Eastern Barred Bandicoots also reside. In short, they epitomise all the qualities of a loyal pup.
Pretty impressive, right? Here’s a little intro to Moss, one of the good boys getting out there and putting in the work every day as part of the ‘Detection Dog Squad’.
The Detection Dog Squad was founded because of the intrinsic relationship humans have with dogs, which allows trainers to create a feeling of safety within their training practices. Once the dogs are all trained up to search steadily, they’re sent out to locate both live animals and traces, like scats or burrows, to alert teams of conservationists of potential threats. The Detection Dog Squad is helping to detect threatened species, including the Broad-toothed Rat, an endangered rodent threatened by habitat degradation, introduced species and bushfires.
Are you crying yet? If you’re not, I’m not sure there’s a lighter way of saying that you’re heartless, but anywho.