Sniffer dogs join fight to protect South Korea’s heritage.
THE trainer snaps her fingers and commands: “Bobae, go!” Bobae the English springer spaniel dashes off to sniff the lofty wooden pillars at Gyeongbokgung palace, one of South Korea’s most important cultural heritage sites.
Suddenly Bobae stops sniffing and sits and stares at a spot on one of the pillars. She has found what she was searching for – two tiny termites.
Back in England’s West Midlands, Bobae and her canine companions, Woori and Boram, were trained to sniff out drugs or explosives.
Now they search out destructive termites threatening South Korea’s historic palaces and temples, which are built mainly of wood.
“It’s much more efficient (than other methods) and their detection is very accurate,” says Jang YoungKi, a specialist at the Cultural Heritage Administration.
“The dogs’ job is to scan and filter the area to narrow down places which researchers at the administration should be looking for.”
Using two of the spaniels and their trainers, it takes only two to three hours to sweep the whole of Gyeongbokgung.
The search for termites could otherwise take many more hours, or even days. Gyeongbokgung, the grandest of Seoul’s five main historic places, has 13 main buildings spread over 34 hectares in the heart of the city.
The dogs are trained not to