koala Phascolarctos cinereus
Despite being slow moving and having a reputation for sleeping eighteen hours a day, koala's can be remarkably hard to find. This is particularly true when they occur at very low numbers over a large landscape. With urbanization encroaching further into their habitat it is becoming more important that ever to be able to find, evaluate and assist the dwindling population if we have any hope of ensuring their long term survival. Scent detection dogs play an important role in this field. Halo has been trained to methodically search the base of trees looking for scat. This telltale eucalyptus smelling sign of a koala's presence gives an accurate indicator of the frequency of movement, time frame since last used and abundance of animals within a defined area.
The far superior nose of the scent detector dog allows for even single scats to be found in long grass and under leaf litter which would have been invisible to the naked eye. The speed at which the dog travels over an area means that large tracts of land can be searched quickly, reliable and efficiently. Like all surveys undertaken by the team, the dogs movements are recorded using GPS collars and any finds recorded as way points. The end result is an accurate map clearly indicating survey path and finds that accurately predicts Koala presence, position and movement.