Puppies are cute. It's a fact of life that will forever be true until the end of time. But do you know what's even cuter? Puppies born in the face of strife - specifically, puppies born to a mama that is one of the rarest dogs in the world.
The people of New Guinea feared the highland wild dog was extinct in its natural habitat. And then, as if by a miracle, researchers discovered that not only was the species still alive but one female dog had also actually given birth to a litter of baby puppers. So, these little guys aren't just cute; they're also super rare.
The Highland Wild Dog - The Rarest Dog In The World
What makes this dog the rarest in the world? Many believed this species - one of the oldest in the world - was extinct in the wild. Sometimes called the New Guinea Singing Dog, this creature is extremely shy and dwindling in numbers, making it nearly impossible to photograph. Before the discovery of the pups in 2016, the only known photographs of the animal were taken in 1989 and 2012.
The dogs live in the dense forests of West Papua, making them extremely hard to spot by humans looking to discover them. What makes them unique is their distinct howl that sounds like singing. A few do live in captivity, which has given humans some insight into the dogs.
This Discovery Proves There's A Healthy Population Of This Species
Researchers have long sought to prove the existence of the dog and get a sample of its wild DNA to understand the species better. But attempts to find the dogs have often been futile. In 2016, the New Guinea Highland Wild Dog Foundation (NGHWDF for short) sought to find the dogs and document their lives. What they found was a thriving population of at least 15 wild dogs, including a litter of puppies who seemed to be doing well.
"The discovery and confirmation of the highland wild dogs for the first time in over half a century is not only exciting, but an incredible opportunity for science," the group said in a statement.
How Did They Find Them?
To find the dogs, the NGHWDF deployed a team of trained scientists to set up trail cameras throughout the dogs' native habitat on Papua New Guinea. After finding some suspected tracks of the dogs, the team set up bait trails and watched the cameras for 48 hours. They captured several shots of the animals, and they are planning to go back sometime in 2017 to conduct more DNA testing.