In the environmentally diverse land they call Australia there is a tennis ball obsessed dog they call Maya. She’s a happy dog with an important job that utilizes her special talent, a gift really, of being able to sniff out, well…koala poo! And you think your job stinks!

As the only dog in the world trained to sniff out koala droppings, Maya’s job is to help ecologists to identify and map prime koala habitats. Why is this necessary? Because the future of koala conservation efforts depends on her nose.

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Unfortunately, there are a number of varying challenges to koala conservation in Australia these days. According to the Conservation Ecology Centre, koalas are threatened by extinction due to habitat fragmentation, car accidents, dog attacks and disease in Queensland and New South Wales. Other areas of Australia are dealing with challenges related to habitat decline for koala populations.

After work, which just recently began for Maya, she gets mega playtime with her favorite thing ever: tennis balls!

“Koala scats are fairly small and are often hidden under leaves and grass. It’s incredibly easy to miss them,” Maya’s handler, Olivia Woosnam, said. “I just run around after her taking GPS co-ordinates and throwing the ball for her.”

However, things were not always happy in her life. Maya had been surrendered to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), then later was lucky to cross paths with professional dog trainer Gary Jackson.

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Maya currently works in the Logan area, a city in South East Queensland, Australia, inspecting large areas of land spanning 50 parks for koala droppings, hence pin-pointing koalas. Her job is kinda neat when you think about it. Not really the poo sniffing part, but the fact that her efforts will be used to produce the first scientific distribution map of koalas in the area.

Let’s all send out a big thank you to Maya for her part in helping with the koala conservation efforts!

Image source: carterse/Flickr

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