Ter­mite track­ers

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIVING - By NAM YOU-SUN

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

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