Detection doggies - sniffing out threatened species

The underground orchid is a very peculiar orchid and very difficult to locate as it can stay hidden underground for over two years. To help learn more and locate these cryptic species, we need the help of two very important conservation detection dogs, Connor and Sally.

Project name SoS Detection Doggies - Sniffing out threatened species

Species name

The Eastern Australian underground orchid (Rhizanthella slateri) and 40 other orchids

Location

Multiple locations across NSW

Project description

Many orchids, including the eastern underground orchid,  are very difficult to locate as they can stay hidden underground for over two years. To help officers learn more and locate these cryptic species, we need the help of two very important conservation detection dogs, Connor and Sally.

These dogs are specifically trained to detect hard to find plant species. They currently detect invasive hawkweeds to aid eradication, but can easily be trained to help us find rare, threatened plant species. They can smell what people can’t see and have proven they can find the smallest of plant parts. They’re surveillance experts!

This unique project will choose a threatened orchid to benefit from Connor and Sally’s surveillance skills. The dogs will then be trained and used to help detect new sites or populations in New South Wales.

Partners

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service

Funds or contribution

$60,000 to undertake a 6-month training project which will cover the costs of training officer coordination and training materials.

$20,000 for Royal Botanic Garden costs to grow or source plants/plant parts for training.

$100,000 for dog trainer and handler costs for initial training and 10 weeks field surveillance plus miscellaneous materials.

Desired outcomes

Find new threatened plant sites or populations to be able to protect them.