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Dogs Join the Fight to Save Wild Tigers

Watch this video to learn more about tigers in Mekong

Thanks to their keen sense of smell, dogs are put to work sniffing out bombs, drugs, earthquake survivors and lost children. Now, WWF is using them to help sniff out tigers. Or tiger dung, to be precise.

For the first time, a WWF expert team is working with highly trained sniffer dogs from the U.S. to track tigers and other large carnivores in the Eastern Plains Landscape in Cambodia. 

The dogs came all the way from the University of Washington for the assignment and think they're in the forest just to have fun. Every time they sniff out a pile of tiger scat, they are rewarded by getting to play fetch with a ball. The WWF scientists, meanwhile, scoop up the scat and send it off for lab analysis to learn more about the genetic diversity of the tigers in this landscape, what they are eating, how many there are and other information that will help WWF achieve its goal of doubling the tiger population of Cambodia.

Once described as "one of the great game lands of the world" because of the herds of wild cattle and deer, the Eastern Plains landscape provides a one-of-a-kind opportunity to help the local tiger population claw its way back from the brink of extinction. Conservation efforts within this landscape have seen wildlife numbers steadily increase, renewing hope for tiger population recovery and marking this landscape as one of the highest priority tiger conservation areas in the world.

More canine conservationists in the Greater Mekong

Photo Journal

Follow the photo journal of the sniffer dogs Sadie and Scooby as they encounter an array of precious wildlife while hard at work.

Image: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

© US Center for Conservation Biology
Scooby and Sadie after a long day training to find tiger scat. They are often taped for training videos that will help future sniffer dog handlers learn the skills needed to track tigers.