Meet Billie Jean: the surprise new face of wildlife conservation

Time is running out for some of Australia’s most loved animals and the habitats they live in. They need help right now – and dogs like Billie Jean could be the answer.

Make a gift for our threatened species and help put trained conservation dogs under the tree this Christmas.

© WWF-Aus / Warren Lynam

The Crisis

Australia has already lost more mammals in the last 200 years than every other country in the world, combined. Without a huge increase in species conservation work, many more beautiful native animals will be gone for good.

Reckless land clearing and an explosion in feral predator numbers have left the survival of many Australian species on a knife’s edge. Bilbies, koalas, numbats – and many other species – are facing an uncertain future. If we have any hope of saving them, we urgently need to speed up on-the-ground conservation work and get policy changed. And to do that we need to gather data showing how bad the situation really is. One of the fastest ways to gather that information is to use conservation detection dogs.

There are areas that were thick with bilbies ten years ago, and now we can’t find a trace of them.

Give now to help protect vulnerable Aussie wildlife.

Dogs and conservation

Detection dogs can help save threatened animals, by sniffing out their poo.

To conserve vulnerable species like bilbies and koalas it’s really important to first find out how many of them there are, and where they are living. But many threatened animal species are notoriously shy, and really good at hiding. One of the best ways to find them is to look for their scat – or poo. That’s where dogs like Billie Jean come in. With their incredible sense of smell, specially trained conservation detection dogs are really fast and effective at finding scat. And once the poo is located, it allows researchers to discover all kinds of vital information about the health of a species, in a way that doesn’t hurt the animals.

Please donate to help train and deploy conservation dogs.

Photo by Jordan Whitt / Unsplash

The view from the field

Alexander Watson

Alex is leading the WWF team researching and conserving threatened bilby populations in the Kimberly.

Bilbies are an iconic Australian species and are culturally important to many aboriginal groups who have stories about them. Using a detection dog in this conservation work would have huge social benefits, by empowering traditional owners to protect their country with a method they love and respect. Bilbies are also important for the ecosystem because they turn over the soil, which is vital for the soil itself and plant health.

Right now we’re doing foot surveys, which are incredibly time consuming. Using a dog to look for bilby scats is a much faster way of tracking down this amazing species that’s in really critical danger.

© Klein & Hubert / WWF


protect the habitats of vulnerable koala populations
save threatened numbats in Western Australia from feral predators like cats and foxes
give Indigenous rangers in the Kimberly the tools they need to conserve bilbies

quokka: © SHUTTERSTOCK / SEESHOOTEATREPEAT / WWF • bilby: © KLEIN & HUBERT / WWF • numbat: © SHUTTERSTOCK / JULIAN W / WWF • bettong: © Stephanie Todd / JCU / WWF-Aus