Could man’s best friend also be the kauri’s best friend?
Dogs are already a loyal and constant companion for many, as well as being in services such as the police, for the blind, and at border security. Now, it seems as though dogs could be used for helping our environment, according to a recent article in the New Zealand Herald.
Using the same principles as sniffing out drugs, Paddy the loveable golden Labrador has been trained to sniff out the awful kauri dieback disease.
The disease has spent the last decade destroying countless numbers of our beautiful native kauri trees, and the battle to save our trees continues every day.
With the help of Paddy, however, we may be one step closer to preventing its destruction.
Paddy has been working with the Auckland City Council biosecurity team and has so far been able to detect the disease in infected wheat 86 per cent of the time on her first try – a figure that increases to 100 per cent when he’s given a second try.
He has also been able to tell the difference between different strains of plant disease, which is even more promising.
The next step is to find out whether Paddy can put these skills to the test in a real-life forest environment. At this stage, the Auckland Council team are hoping this may mean that one day, Paddy (and perhaps other trained dogs) will be able to help both identify kauri dieback, and also locate the actual source of the disease.
Such information could help prevent the spread of kauri dieback.
Plus, as Imogen Basset of the city council points out, involving a gorgeous golden Labrador in the effort is a wonderful way to help get more of the public aware and involved in beating kauri dieback.
Tristan Cullen - Passionate Conservationist