For the past seven years I have been slightly obsessed searching for Greater Gliders on Land for Wildlife properties throughout South East Queensland. Greater Gliders rarely make noises and they forage high in the canopy often in hard to traverse areas. Their cryptic nature makes it very difficult to see them or to even know if they are present.
A possible solution to better detect Greater Gliders is using a detection dog to transverse an area in the daytime and then spotlight the indicated area or tree the same night. This will reduce search hours and better pin-point areas where Greater Glider populations exist.
Seeing that detection dogs are all the rage, I asked around to see if anyone would like to train their dog to sniff out Greater Gliders on Brisbane Land for Wildlife properties. Stefan Hattingh put his hand up and said his dog Emma would be great at it. Emma was trained on fox scent and Stefan thought it might be possible to train Emma on a second scent.
A key ingredient in training a detection dog is having access to fresh scats of the target animal. Finding wild Greater Glider scat is a near impossible task as it is so small. Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary was able to help by sending parcels of sealed scat while making sure the collection process had as little human contact as possible to reduce scent contamination.
We went for a test run in a Brisbane City Council reserve where there is a known population of Greater Gliders. On her first night out, Emma indicated to wild Greater Glider scent by putting both of her front feet up on the base of a stag tree. That night we waited by the stag tree and were delighted when a Greater Glider appeared from the hollow. We were all on a big high and I am eager to work with Emma and Land for Wildlife members in the future to help detect and conserve these amazing threatened animals.
Article and uncredited photos by Catherine Madden
Land for Wildlife Officer
Brisbane City Council