The Australian rescue dog Maya is lending her nose to help out koalas. She's the only dog in the world that can recognize where koalas live by sniffing out the marsupials' droppings. For now, ecologists have to lean on anecdotes to get a sense of koala habitats in western Australia -- but, with Maya's keen sense of smell, they're building the first scientific map of koalas living in the area.
Conservationists are happy to have Maya on their team, as it's tough to uncover koala droppings without a sensitive snout. "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, tells 9 News Australia.
In her quest to help koalas, Maya is romping through 480 hectares (about the same size as 900 football fields) while sniffing out scat. And her reward? Plenty of playtime with a tennis ball. "I just run around after her taking GPS coordinates and throwing the ball for her," Woosnam says.