Mena, the only penguin detection conservation dog in the South Island, along with handler Alastair Judkins, joined the West Coast Penguin Trust for two weeks to survey penguin nest sites and visit schools.
Mena’s key function is to sniff out penguin sites and the Trust wanted to confirm the penguin presence and ideally numbers in several areas including north of Hokitika, along the penguin protection fence north of Punakaiki, and around Tauranga Bay/Cape Foulwind and Carters Beach. She knows, when her muzzle is on, that she’s on duty. She’ll seek out a whiff of penguin and then track it down. When she has found the source, she’ll sit down and await further instructions. Alastair will get her to sit and stay on a small blanket while he investigates further and records the finding.
Alastair and Mena also offer a wonderful session for primary school age children and we were delighted to be able to take Alastair and Mena to several of the schools we work with – Hokitika, Kumara, Paroa, Grey Main, Barrytown, Westport South and Granity schools.
Knowing where penguins are nesting is invaluable when development is planned and we are also keen to have a measure of penguins protected by the penguin fence, which we are confident are increasing in number, but doing surveys like this will give us greater certainty.
The school children had a wonderful time learning about conservation dogs and Mena in particular and then getting to meet this gorgeous Vizla.