Studies of New Guinea Singing Dogs
Tracking the health, genetics and behaviors of New Guinea Singing Dogs is an important aspect of our work. We seek to identify any health trends that are developing over the years.
Some emerging health concerns have been identified, and the NGSDCS is working with owners and health providers to better understand these issues. We are also collaborating with organizations and institutions in North America and PNG on numerous studies involving these special dogs.
Current the Canine Brains Project at Harvard University is seeking New Guinea Singing Dogs for their brain MRI study as well as their howling and behavior studies. Please reach out to us if you're interested in participating or check out our social media for announcements.
Members of our community are also participating in Molly Sumridge's study on the relationships between owners and their NGSDs in North America.
The NGSDCS is always interested in collaborating on projects to further the knowledge and welfare of NGSDs. Please reach out if you'd like to dicuss the possibilities.
Searching for Singers in Papua New Guinea
A view from the trail on the way to Mt. Wilhelm
Since 2016 the NGSDCS USA has supported field research lead by Ms. Rose Singadan, a PhD candidate at the University of Papua New Guinea. Rose, a biologist, has been an admirer of Singers for two decades. The Society supplied equipment including a GPS hand-held device, digital cameras, trail cameras, special DNA swabs designed for extended unrefrigerated storage, a portable solar panel, and specimen collection supplies. We also provided grants for expenses. Despite many setbacks, Rose and her assistants have scouted one location reported to have recent sightings of wild dogs, and started discussions with the people in a very remote mountain village about searching for Singers on their land. All land in PNG is owned by the tribe that has traditional claim to it, and permission to do anything in the area, even to pass through, must be approved and the local customs followed
Rose (on left) and her assistants at the first study site, Mt. Wilhelm National Park
Many PNG people who do not live in the mountains have never heard of the Singers, and Rose is developing educational materials to inform them about the value of the Singers to the ecology. Her hope is to secure agreements from the locals where Singers are verified to not hunt the Singers (most do not anyway) and to leave enough prey animals for the dogs to survive. Most of the rural village people hunt local animals as their main protein source, so to ensure their cooperation some way must be devised to replace the prey with another source, perhaps by supplying chickens for them to raise for eggs and meat. No markets in walking distance from the villages, and no roads at higher elevations. Everything must be carried into the mountains over often difficult foot paths.
People from Rose’s family village helping get the borrowed 4 wheel drive to the village, the end of the road.
The plan for the field study includes collecting photos of and DNA samples from village dogs. Scats and hairs from the Singers will provide DNA samples. These samples will be compared to the North American Singer DNA and the Wilton/Cairns admixture test done to determine percentage of village dog genes vs. Singer/dingo genes in the samples.
Old Singer scats containing bones collected at the Mt. Wilhelm site
After determining how rare the Singers are, and how stable the population is, so we are confident removing some will do no harm, the plan is to have locals collect one puppy from each breeding pair located to bring to the USA to expand the gene pool.
Another goal of the study is to collect the old myths and stories about the PNG Singers. The Society will publish these as a booklet for the people of PNG, to help preserve that part of their traditional lore.