Australia’s koalas are under significant threat from disease, bushfires, attacks from domestic animals and loss of habitat from expanding urbanisation.
While these threats are not new, catastrophic bushfires that ravaged parts of eastern Australia in the summer of 2019/20 galvanised concern for thousands of animals killed or severely injured during this disaster.
As new life returns to scarred bushland areas, knowledge about rebuilding and maintaining healthy koala populations is vital. Since 2018, koala experts and researchers at the Hidden Vale Wildlife Centre have been honing techniques for tracking, monitoring and conserving koalas in order to support healthy and sustainable populations.
The Hidden Vale Koala Project has been working to shed light on the number and health of the koala population at Hidden Vale, and refine research techniques that can be used elsewhere to support koala conservation efforts. In just three years, the project has identified close to 40 koalas on the property and seen around 20 new joeys added to the population through successful breeding in the wild.
A state-of-the-art wildlife tracking system at Hidden Vale allows for real-time location of identified koalas and enables a regular catch-and release health check program.
Koalas on the eastern side of the property are tracked, monitored and assessed. In completing this work, the research team has driven more than 8,000 kilometres and walked many more in undertaking more than 4,300 field events including capture-and-release, relocation and interventions, and leaf-cutting to provide food for animals in care.
The project has also included close to 350 veterinary examinations to assess and treat koalas in the study.