Dog sniffs for tiger droppings in Cambodia
PHNOM PENH (AFP) — A dog trained in Russia to sniff for tiger droppings has begun searching for the big cats in a protected area in Cambodia, conservationists said Friday.
The German wire-haired pointer named Maggie last week began to search for signs of tigers in Seima Biodiversity Conservation Area.
"Normally, a dog can smell very far. So we are using the dog to find the presence of the tigers in the area," said Men Soriyun, a project manager for the north-eastern protected area.
Conservationists are uncertain how many of the big cats remain in Cambodia's jungles.
A second dog will be brought from Russia to the protected area later this year, according to conservationists at the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society.
Tigers originally ranged over much of Asia, but are now scattered across parts of south and southeast Asia, with a few populations in the Russian far east and China, according to the group.
It said up to 500,000 tigers likely roamed the Asian continent 200 years ago, but poaching and habitat loss has reduced the population to about 5,000.
In 2006 the group and conservation outfit Panthera, also based in New York, launched a 10-million-dollar initiative called "Tigers Forever."
The use of sniffer dogs is part of the programme, which aims to increase tiger populations by 50 percent in key sites across Asia over ten years.