Monday, January 12, 2009

Guard Dogs and penguins

Another encouraging story about guard dogs and wildlife, once more reaching me through the Wildlife Disease Network a blog I regularly scan here. In this case the protected animals are about as far from what one might imagine as possible. They are fairy penguins! These are the smallest penguins on earth, and nest in burrows close to shore. They are also known as little penguins, but the fairy name is more attractive, at least to me.

In an intriguing report from Australia published on-line in the Earth Times of Jan 5th that you can find here comes this report. For those who want a précis here is mine.

Guard dogs, in this case Maremmas sheep dogs from Italy, that bond to their charges just like the Anatolian and Pyrenees that I mentioned a few days ago on this blog, have been introduced to a small south-coast Australian island called Middle Island. The results have been very positive, and the population of penguins, which had declined (crashed?) from an original 5000 to 100 four years ago has crept back up to 180. Twenty-six chicks were counted in one night according to project manager Ian Fitzgibbons.

There are no pictures of either the penguins or the dogs in the report, so I have gone looking for them on the web and found a picture of the attractive dogs at here. They look very much like the Pyrenneans.

As for the penguins, here is what I found. The first one came straight form Google. The second picture (found here) looks very much like the ones we tried to take in Australia a few years ago. I fancy that the photographer was allowed to go much closer to the birds than we were, as ordinary tourists.

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