Scat Dogs Saving Cheetahs
Learn about how our detection dog team is protecting cheetahs and providing our research and National Survey teams with piles of data!
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Dogs are used in a variety of ways to find different kinds of materials. In our case, they are trained to detect cheetah scat. Their noses can have up to 300 million olfactory receptors (breed dependent) as compared to humans which have about 5 million olfactory receptors. Coupled with the fact that the part of a dog's brain devoted to analyzing smells is, proportionally speaking, about 40 times greater than a humans and you can see why dogs are so effective in searching where such precision is needed over the large areas in which we search.
Utilizing dogs to find cheetah scat is a completely non-invasive method. As we are not actively searching for cheetahs, but instead the scat they leave behind, the cheetah may no longer be in the area. The scat, when collected, can then be analyzed for a variety of things such as DNA, prey selection, and cheetah health. All of this accomplished without ever having seen a cheetah, much less having to immobilize one to collect the same information.
Detection dogs have greatly expanded our capacity building in terms of our mission of promoting the conservation of cheetahs. It has allowed us to increase our ability to survey cheetah populations in a more robust manner while utilizing overall fewer man-hours. This is fiscally more responsible and allows for added educational and staff development opportunities. Additionally, we have been able to provide demonstrations of how detection dogs can be used in a variety of situations. This lends itself to solidifying ACK's place in cheetah conservation on a range-wide scale.