The Riverine Rabbit is one of southern Africa's most threatened mammals and is listed as critically endangered.
In the eighties it was suggested that the remaining suitable habitat might support a maximum of 1400 rabbits in the Karoo.
However, new isolated populations have since been found (in 2003) in the Western Cape near Montagu and Touwsriver.
There are currently no Riverine Rabbits in nature reserves or national parks. This means that farmers are the only hope to preserve the species. The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) has been working with farmers for the past 15 years to protect the species.
Finding the rabbits is very difficult which means gathering accurate data to help protect them is also difficult. That’s where Jessie comes in. Jessie is a special sniffer dog being trained to help detect these elusive creatures.
Speaking to John Maytham, Drylands Conservation Programme Manager, Cobus Theron said Jessie is a boarder collie and she and her owner have received in-depth training over the last year in controlled conditions.
To try to see if Jessie can actually find the scent, we have to harvest the scent of rabbits that were accidentally killed in road accidents in the first place and have been training in controlled conditions.— Cobus Theron, Conservation Programme Manager
Listen below to the full interview:
This article first appeared on CapeTalk : Jessie the sniffer dog to help with Riverine Rabbit conservation