Sydney-based not-for-profit organisation Science for Wildlife has launched an initiative to research the return and relocation of displaced koalas coming back to the wild following the Australian bushfires.
Koalas in the vast Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage area have been heavily impacted by bushfires. Under the Blue Mountains Koala Project, Science for Wildlife has been undertaking search and rescue of burnt koalas, while implementing water stations and conducting surveys to discover what remains of the koala population.
Koalas are a threatened species, vulnerable to extinction across most of their range in Australia. Once a thriving 3-4 million community, koala numbers are now as low as 300,000.
Science for Wildlife is working to find these koala populations in order to help conserve them. Once the populations are found and mapped and the threats to koalas identified, the information is shared with land managers, rural fire services and community groups to protect koalas and restore koala habitats.
The Sydney-based wildlife conservation organisation started the Blue Mountains Koala Project in 2014. The Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage area is a potential refuge for koalas who have suffered a loss of habitat in the eastern and western regions of the continent from climate change and human development, as well as the bushfires.
The protected Greater Blue Mountains region, which is over 1 million hectares, also contains the most genetically diverse koalas in Australia, making them important for conservation of the species. The koalas in this World Heritage region have more choice of food trees and habitats than anywhere else, so research conducted in the area by Science for Wildlife is also helping the organisation to ensure koalas have a future under climate change.
Once the populations are found and mapped and the threats to koalas identified, the information is shared with land managers, rural fire services and community groups to protect koalas and restore koala habitats.
As well as using ground-breaking techniques like wildlife detection dogs to find low density koala populations, Science for Wildlife also relies on citizen science, calling on the community to report koala sightings to them.
Based on several years of research Science for Life have produced the very first maps of koala habitats in the region of SE Wollemi National Park, the first of five study sites, and have identified risk hotspots for koalas in the nearby developed areas in the Hawkesbury. The conservation organisation is currently working on its second study site around Kanangra-Boyd National Park.
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com