Sniffer dogs trained by National Pingtung University of Science and Technology sniffed out brown root rot disease in trees on Wednesday, a feat their trainer described as globally unprecedented.
Brown root rot disease, caused by Phellinus noxius, was reported to be affecting trees in Chungshan Park (中山公園) in Pingtung County, and park officials asked the university to use its trained dogs to help find out exactly how many trees were infected.
Dog trainer Chi Wei-lien (祁偉廉) brought two beagles to the park and led them around each tree.
When the dogs detected a sick tree, they sat down on the infected roots and waited for Chi to give them a treat as a reward.
“Within just six seconds, the dogs were able to sniff out the location of the brown root rot,” Chi said, adding that he had not heard of dogs anywhere else in the world able to do that.
The idea to train the dogs came from the use of canines by truffle hunters. From this, Chi inferred that every type of fungus, including Phellinus noxius, has its own distinct scent. He then started training three beagle bitches, aged about five, using Phellinus noxius grown in the lab.
Energy and a fondness for eating are the top requirements when selecting dogs for the task, he said.
With more than 1,000 trees in the park, Chi said he expected it to take about three days to finish examining all of them.
Pingtung County Commissioner Tsao Chi-hung (曹啟鴻) also visited the park to learn about the extent of the infection. Sick trees must be cut down to prevent them from falling over and hurting people, he said.
Officials from the county’s Public Works Department said they are hopeful the dogs will identify the infected trees before the disease runs rampant in the park.
PAST CATCHING UP: Raphael Lin was last year convicted of intimidating his girlfriend at the time, and in 2015 allegedly confined his parents and assaulted his mother Doctoral student and media commentator Raphael Lin (林秉樞) is in detention and has had his communication rights limited after he was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly subjecting Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Kao Chia-yu (高嘉瑜) to two days of violence in a hotel room, the New Taipei District Court said yesterday. The New Taipei City Prosecutors’ Office had filed a request to detain Lin — who was Kao’s boyfriend at the time of the incident — with the court approving the request early yesterday. The prosecutors’ office said that it is likely to charge Lin with seven offenses: assault causing bodily harm, violating
NBA player Enes Kanter Freedom has taken to social media to urge Jeremy Lin (林書豪) to “stand with Taiwan” and stop taking “dirty Chinese Communist Party money.” “Haven’t you had enough of that Dirty Chinese Communist Party money feeding you to stay silent?” Freedom wrote on Facebook and Twitter on Sunday. The 29-year-old Boston Celtics center, who took a new surname when he became a US citizen on Monday last week, urged Lin: “Stand with Taiwan! Stop bowing to money & the Dictatorship.” Lin, a US citizen of Taiwanese descent who last year obtained a Taiwanese passport, has not responded to Freedom. Lin is
A COVID-19 vaccine trial carried out in Taiwan has found that a combination of the AstraZeneca and the locally developed Medigen vaccines is more effective than two doses of AstraZeneca, the research team said on Saturday. The trial, which was initiated by Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, examined 100 people aged 22 to 62 divided into two groups: One group was vaccinated with two AstraZeneca doses, while the other received a first dose of AstraZeneca and a second dose of Medigen, team leader Chen Chih-jung (陳志榮) said. The geometric mean titers (GMTs) of neutralizing antibodies in the mix-and-match group after 10 days were
Toads are a symbol of prosperity and good fortune in Taiwan, but the unexpected discovery of an invasive species has officials and environmentalists scrambling to contain their spread. With flashlights in hand and shielded by protective gloves, dozens of volunteers from the Taiwan Amphibian Conservation Society worked through the night searching rice fields and vegetable plots for their quarry — the cane toad. There should be no reason for these large and highly toxic amphibians to exist in Caotun (草屯), a township in the foothills of the central mountain range. Cane toads are indigenous to South and Central America, and while they have