2020 - A Koala Year in Review 🎥
While all the world watches koala numbers dwindling with dismay, Koala Gardens - located in NSW Australia - is working to show private landowners that they can provide habitat and watch the numbers grow.
Protecting koala populations through habitat regeneration - private landowners have the power. Every tree makes a difference.
Deforestation in Australia has put those precious animals at high risk of extinction. Clearing of the eucalypt forests means that all wildlife, including koalas, will suffer from loss of habitat, increased disturbance by humans followed by stress-related illness, injury or death from traffic and irresponsible dog-ownership. Over 4000 koalas are killed each year by cars and dogs alone. When koalas are on the ground, they walk slowly as they are poorly adapted to walking on the ground. Even though koalas are often thought of as nocturnal (active at night), this is not strictly true. Koalas will wake at any time of the day or night and move about and eat as needed. They eat when their stomach empties and sleep or rest to digest, but most likely have their most active period during the night or in the early hours of the morning before dawn.
(A word on the author Katrina Jeffrey:
On the north coast of NSW (New South Wales) in Australia, in a small regional area called Tuckurimba, local resident Katrina Jeffrey spends an hour each morning on her quad bike checking the trees on her property for koalas. She has been doing this for over 4 years as part of her mission to help restore important koala habitat in the region. The land is now growing into a dense forest where koalas can move through the tree-tops without even having to go on the ground, which they used to do before humans changed their habitat continuously. Katrina has an in-perpetuity conservation agreement with the BCT and was successful in our Port Macquarie koala habitat tender in 2018. She now receives annual funding to continue her important work in koala habitat protection and restoration. She runs field days for local residents to educate and encourage them to get involved in koala conservation, and even has her own website.)
Fortunately 2020 has been a year of slowly recovering from the drought and fires of 2019.
One of the biggest impacts for Koala Gardens was the loss of two important colony members, and the disappearance of several others. This resulted in zero joeys (a young kangaroo or other marsupial) being born on the property. This is such a reminder of how fragile the entire koala population is and how precious every single koala is.
2020 is year six of daily sighting, observation and photography.
There were a total of 699 adult sightings. This takes the daily average to 1.9 koalas per day. While this is a significant drop from the numbers that we were trending towards in 2019, the second half of the year saw a definite increase begin.
During the dispersion (from July each year), new females began moving through and onto the property again. This will be particularly important for the re-stabilising of the colony over the next 1 – 2 years.
These days of sightings were the result of activity on the property by 33 individual adult/independent koalas. 17 of these 33 koalas were males and 16 females. That is the most even distribution we have seen before.
We were particularly saddened to lose the awesome alpha male Jordan. His issues were a byproduct of the drought, a secondary issue if you like. He was infected by a nasty parasite that is carried by the Indonesian cattle tick (not the native Australian ticks). This parasite destroys the red blood cells and proved difficult to treat. Sadly we were unable to rid him of this.
Only one week later, the beautiful Racee died very suddenly and there was no chance to attempt to save her. We performed a necropsy which showed enlarged lymph nodes through her body and heart issues. She also showed some ovarian cysts which are caused by chlamydia. This is an important discovery as she never showed any outward signs of chlamydial infection, so indicates just how insidious this disease, brought to the country with sheep, has been for our koalas. Interestingly, there were no other koalas that came onto the property during the entire year that was diseased.
There have been some changes to the numbered zones in the property again during 2020 to mark out zone 19, which is the new koala kindy (an area for recovery of young koalas which are called “joeys”, brought in from Koala Hospital. From kindy they are later released into the wild).
The kindy has been host to 10 koalas for different reasons after being established in July 2020. This has been another way Koala Gardens is able to extend the activities of helping save koalas. The kindy was kindly funded by ifaw (International Fund for Animal Welfare) and FOK (Friends of the Koala Northern Rivers, Australia) and koalas are in the kindy under the rescue and rehabilitation licence of FOK.
So now get settled and enjoy looking back over the 33 koalas that lived on, or came through Koala Gardens during 2020.
🎥 (13:16) "2020 - a Koala year in review"
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