A pair of Maremma guard dogs are the newest players in the fight against the extinction of the Eastern Barred Bandicoot.
As part of a new program the ten week old pups will be trained for a future as ‘bandicoot bodyguards.’ They will work to protect the bandicoots from introduced predators such as foxes.
Currently the dogs are living in a specially designed back of house facility at Werribee Open Range Zoo. Here they meeting a range of native species including the bandicoot and sheep which they will also protect.
Eastern barred bandicoots wake at night and are shy. So that the dogs will have something to do during the day they will also protect sheep. By raising the dogs with the bandicoots and sheep they will view them as the natural residents of that area. A natural instinct to guard and low prey-drive mean maremmas make the perfect candidate for this work.
Once mature the dogs will move to a trial site such as the private Tiverton Station in Western Victoria.
This program is a result of collaboration between Zoos Victoria, Mt Rothwell Biodiversity Interpretation Centre an Tiverton Property Partners, National Trust of Australia, Morramong and the Eastern Barred Bandicoot Recovery Team. It has been funded by the Federal and Victorian Governments.
Photo Credits: Werribee Open Range Zoo