planting the future

Campbelltown Koalas

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Koala Retreat is working closely with Professor Rob Close and his team to understand the plight of our koalas along the George’s River.

Assoc. Professor Rob Close with the support of University of Western Sydney has been studying koalas that roam freely around the Georges River. He has been researching the Koalas’ habitat for close to 17 years with the help of former PhD student, Dr Steven Ward and volunteers Lyn Bowden and Mick and Wendy Fairs.

They have compiled valuable data on the movements of the male Koalas and the home-ranges of the females, and the survival rates and dispersal of the young. The young female koalas usually are not far from their mothers’ home ranges and only move off after 2–3 years. The researchers have been able to draw up family trees and have followed one family across three generations.

The researchers have also gathered data on which trees are used for food and which for shelter and have constructed detailed maps showing how the koalas use their habitat which is adjacent to the Georges River or its tributaries.

Over one hundred koalas out of a possible population of three hundred or so have been ear-tagged and these are being monitored through sightings reported by the community. Nine females are currently fitted with tracking devices to study their movements and feeding patterns.

The team has recently been joined by Melissa Farrelly who is learning the tricks of the radio-tracking trade from Lynn who has 8 years experience with the telemetry technique. Mel is currently completing her Masters degree of Wildlife Conservation at the University of Sydney. Part of Mel’s research is a joint program with Prof Close’s group to monitor two young Campbelltown koalas which they hope to release soon at Tarlo River National Park in the Southern Tablelands

Unfortunately with the increase of human population, comes an increase of housing and domestic animals, such as dogs, cats, cattle and horses etc, which all play a part in habitat destruction for the Koalas.

The research conducted needs more tracking devices to give a more accurate account of the movements and social structure. Any support towards Robert Close and his team would be greatly appreciated.

Professor Robert Close