USQ researcher Dr Romane Cristescu with Detection Dogs for Conservation border collie Baxter.
USQ researcher Dr Romane Cristescu with Detection Dogs for Conservation border collie Baxter. Contributed

Dung detection a huge boost for koala conservation

SAVING animals by smelling their dung might seem strange to some, but it is proving successful for the research team behind the Detection Dogs for Conservation program working on the Cooroy-to-Curra highway upgrade.

Baxter is one of four dogs being trained in the program, according to University of Sunshine Coast researcher Dr Celine Frere.

She said the program would be of immense benefit to koala conservation efforts, especially in areas where their habitat will be affected by major projects.

"It's very time-consuming and very expensive," Dr Frere said of the normal methods used to help identify koala habitats, while pointing out it was much easier for dogs to detect koala scat than humans.

"It really saves a lot of time.

"We're much better at knowing where they are and where they're not."

Dr Frere said the Detection Dogs for Conservation program, which was conducted with team member and fellow researcher Dr Romane Cristescu, had been working closely with community action groups and the council to improve the ability to preserve and improve koala populations.

She said support their research had received was great.

"We feel that we've been extremely well supported by the TMR," Dr Frere said.

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