We all know the age old adage "a dog is a man's best friend," but in the case of Kyoko Johnson, founder of Conservation Dogs of Hawaii, a dog is a conservationist's best friend. On Oahu Johnson has trained over 30 dog and handler teams to detect invasive plants, insects and animals, as well as detect endangered species for research and conservation purposes.
The dog and the handler work in tandem, the handler helping to bring the dogs to the right locations and the dogs using their superior sense of smell to rout out mongooses, devil's weed and other invasive targets that are far off the trails or too small for the human eye to see. According to Earth Island Journal, "dogs have up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses compared to our six million, and the part of their brain that analyzes smell is about 40 times greater, proportionally, than ours." Once the dogs locate a plant, insect or animal that does not belong or that is endangered, they will alert the handler who then reaches out to local conservation groups so they can go in and remove it or protect it.
If you thought that was cool, wait until you read this - Kyoko Johnson and her nonprofit have embarked on training rats to find hidden carcasses of dead animals and birds in taro fields! We applaud Johnson and Conservation Dogs of Hawaii for finding innovative ways of keeping our native species safe.
Check out more on their website.