Sheepdog guardians protect threatened rare penguins, foxes almost hunt them to extinction

Since the early 1900’s Italian migrants have travelled all over the world re-settling in many places as they start a new life. Australia welcomed the Italian migrants with open arms and has become one of the worlds most successful multi-cultural-societies. But one migrant from Italy that not many of us have heard of is the “Maremma Sheepdog”. These big-beautiful-balls-of-fluff are extremely hard working animals that specialize in herd protection. What does that mean you may ask, well it pretty much says it all? This special breed of sheep dog were developed to protect sheep and other herds from marauding foxes in the Italian countryside.

Maremma dogs are used extensively in Australia to protect “Free-Range” chickens from intruders out for a free meal, and have been extremely successful. On a small Island off the coast on Victoria, in Australia’s south eastern shoreline there lives a colony of tiny native penguins. These fascinating creatures use the island as a breading place, but sadly a pack of feral foxes discovered this and have been wreaking havoc on the tiny birds ever since. A plan was hatched to try to alleviate this problem by introducing two Maremma dogs to the island in an attempt to solve the growing problem that the penguins were facing.

The idea was suggested by a chicken farmer names Swampy Marsh, who uses this breed to protect his chickens, his logic was simple, why not use a European guard dog to fight a European predator? The rest as they say, is history. In 2006, sisters Yudi and Toola were brought to the island in a last minute attempt to save the diminishing penguin population. When they got to the island there were only ten penguins left alive. So close to extinction on the island were the penguins that little hope was left for their survival.

Ten years later and the penguin colony has reach nearly 200, mostly thanks to the tireless work of two Maremma sisters who have literally saved-the-day for their little herd of penguin-protectorates. The video below gives you a great idea of just how this wonderful breed of dog works. But now after ten years the sisters are getting tired so their replacement, a beautiful little Maremma pup has been brought onto the island to be trained to take over this all important job.

This is a wonderful story of man and his best friend working together on a cause that most of us would have known nothing about. It makes you wonder how many of these types of stories are there throughout the world, and how many are there that are willing to help. Click on the link below and be inspired by a story that could have quite easily have had a tragic ending