In an unusual partnering, Australian conservationists are recruiting Maremma dogs for a new pilot program to help save the endangered Eastern Bandicoot. This follows a highly successful program where the Maremma protected the fairy penguins on Australia’s Middle Island from fox attacks. The dogs, which operated in pairs, form special bonds with the penguins and the fox, recognising the presence of a larger alpha male canine, ceased the attacks. The large, pale-coloured Maremma, comes from Italy where its highly-developed protective instinct means it is extensively used for guarding livestock, particularly sheep, from wolf attack.
The Eastern Bandicoot was thought to be extinct in Victoria until a small colony was discovered in the 1980s. Melbourne Zoo has since bred more than 650 which it is keen to re-introduce into the wild providing it can put in place a program to give them their best chance against the fox, an introduced species now endemic across Australia. According to a spokesman from Melbourne Zoo, a pair of Maremma can protect an area of approximately 800 hectares creating “safe havens” for the Bandicoot allowing the creatures to form self-sustaining populations. You can get more information about the project, contact the Zoos Victoria Foundation email firstname.lastname@example.org