Maremma sheepdogs, allies of flocks and shepherds but also of penguins. The beautiful dogs, protagonists of many projects undertaken to protect the wolf by Almo Nature as part of its aLmore initiative have received recognition for their guarding excellence in Australia. The strength of this dog remains the same – the ability to ward off predators from prey that by their nature are weak – but the context of their duties are very different from their work in the Italian valleys.
The brainchild of Allan ‘Swampy’ Marsh
For over eight years, the Middle Island Maremma Project, created by Allan ‘Swampy’ Marsh, breeder and owner of Oddball, a Maremma sheepdog has proved invaluable in warding off predators from the island’s penguins. Marsh, a chicken farmer, who had successfully been using the breed to protect his flock had an inspired idea to solve the problem of the near-extinction of the Fairy penguins, representatives of the biodiversity of Middle Island: he proposed the use of Maremma sheepdogs to ward off red foxes. Thanks to this inspired idea, accepted promptly by the town leaders of Warnamboll, sisters Eudy and Tula, splendid examples of the Maremma sheepdog, landed on the island.
Eudy and Tula, pioneers of an innovative project
The two specifically trained Maremma sheepdogs have changed the fortunes of the colony of Fairy penguins: increasing the colony from a lowly four specimens to a remarkable 150 birds. An important milestone for the two dogs that now, at the age of eight, are set to retire. Such was their success, that other young Maremma sheepdogs are now being sourced to continue the great work of their predecessors as flock guardians. This example adds to the many successful cases of cohabitation and cooperation between man and animals.