Save Our Precious Koalas - Leading By Example 🎥
Let me introduce myself. I am Inga, a senior team-member at Enviroblog.net. I was lucky having the opportunity to visit a long admired project: “Koala Gardens at Tuckurimba” (New South Wales/Australia). It was such an amazing, inspirational experience, and I am delighted to share my enthusiasm with our readers.
The owner of Koala Gardens transformed a property into a Koala sanctuary. “I knew that I wanted to regenerate habitat, I knew a few important native animals that were using the property, but I didn’t know much at all,'' the owner said. And now Koala Gardens owner Katrina, goes over the entire property every day observing the koalas in growing numbers and other fauna and flora. She monitors each koala with photo documentation to assist in her research. A selection of these photos is posted most days on her Facebook-page, thousands of people around the world are able to connect personally to the colony.
It truly is a “magnificent” koala sanctuary now!
Katrina took me for a walk over her property, showing the koalas and explaining the transformation of her property, sharing her observations and experiences. 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.
Scenic view from Koala Gardens at Tuckurimba over the tree-tops of the regenerating forest
Since European settlement, approximately 80% of Australia's eucalypt forests have been cleared. Almost none of the 20% remaining is protected, and most is found on privately-owned land. Settlers have favoured the rich fertile lands along the eastern seaboard to build their farms and urban developments. Unfortunately, this is where the majority of koalas are already living because they favour trees in the same fertile soil. Koalas live in colonies, so they need to be able to come into contact with other koalas; therefore they need to have areas of suitable eucalypt forest large enough to support a healthy koala population, with room for expansion by maturing young Koalas.
“Maxine” Koala with Joey
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.
JORDAN is a mature alpha male koala who rules over the majority of the property, except for the top western zone. His dark colouring makes his bloodline easy to spot.
Jordankoala showing off his claws. Koalas have large, sharp claws to assist with climbing tree trunks. Their hands and feet are built to curl around tree branches very tightly. Their hands have two opposable thumbs, providing better gripping ability.
It sure was an inspiring experience to meet this lovely lady so dedicated in her mission to “save the koalas” - a hero I believe. She definitely can be proud of her achievements on the property, the educational activities within her community, working with wildlife groups and additional actions (see her website). If more property owners were to follow her example, we certainly would be able to give those precious creatures at least a chance of survival. Only collectively we will be successful. I certainly will follow her example.
Property owner Katrina (right); team-member at Enviroblog.net (left)
The koala numbers have increased from 408 sightings in 2015 to over 1229 sightings in August 2019 - “Working to conserve koala habitat for the generations to come!” - Katrina Jeffery
Trees ain’t trees: Regenerating native habitat is usually achieved using two basic methods, and they are not exclusive. A great result is often achieved by using both together.
Planting saplings that either come from elsewhere or grown from seed on the property.
Encouraging and nurturing natural regeneration.
Koala Gardens now has 8 years of regeneration work to observe and compare and during this time both strategies have been used.
Planting of species as tube stock is the only option when you need to add species to the property that do not currently exist. One thing it is important to consider when choosing species to introduce is what habitat and species are endemic to the area. Unfortunately, in the past, species have been planted outside of their native area, thinking that if they are Australian they are locally appropriate. This is not always true.
Knowing what is endemic allows you to plant the habitat that will quickly assist the correct ecosystems to be re-established or repaired.
Natural regeneration: Regeneration needs to focus on entire ecosystems, rather than thinking in terms of creating plantations. This will mean considering the under-storey, mid-storey and top-storey with the flora, and considering the fauna that will be involved from insects through to the larger mammals, reptiles and birds.
Plantation thinking often results in mono-cultures or out-of-area plantings that don’t support the local fauna as well.
For more information on how to regenerate a property and transform it into a wildlife sanctuary, please access Koala Gardens website/articles (links under “Reference”). Katrina offers detailed information with photos about koalas, their habitat, koala behaviour and much more. You will also find interesting reading about her lovely koalas.
“While all the world watches koala numbers dwindling with dismay, Koala Gardens is working to show private landowners that they can provide habitat and watch the numbers grow” - Katrina Jeffery
Why not consider a koala adoption…?
🎥 (5:55) Jordan - a wild koala at Koala Gardens Tuckurimba - Koala Gardens, published on 1 Sep 2016
Jordan shows a lot of typical koala behaviour in this video as he goes to the ground to choose a new tree from a wide selection.
Koala Gardens at Tuckurimba, 2019 (viewed 30.08.2019)
Facebook Koala Gardens at Tuckurimba (viewed 30.08.2019)
Koala Gardens blogs for Enviroblog.net
https://www.enviroblog.net/post/holy-hollows (Aug 27,2018)
https://www.enviroblog.net/post/did-you-know-a-baby-koala-is-called-a-joey (Feb 08,2019 Nhanta)