Koala release in the Royal National Park

Science for Wildlife is thrilled to share news of the release of another koala into the iconic Royal National Park! The koala (named Royal), was originally taken into care after it had been found by WIRES in a Kirrawee front yard, near the very busy Forest Road and a local dog park. After being rehabilitated and fitted with a radio tracking device, this koala will now take part in our ongoing study monitoring rehabilitated koalas who have been released back into the wild.

The Koala Post-Rehabilitation Project, being undertaken by Science for Wildlife in partnership with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and WIRES, looks at whether koalas survive in the wild once they have been through treatment and care. The project monitors koalas, post-rehabilitation, in the Greater Western Sydney region with the aim of improving our understanding of survival and of the factors contributing to successful re-establishment in the wild.

As stated by Environment Minister Kean:

This project is one of many funded under the NSW Koala Strategy which is the biggest commitment by any state government to secure koalas in the wild and build our knowledge to improve koala conservation.

Featured above: Royal with Field Ecologist Brie Sloggett

Science for Wildlife is currently monitoring seven koalas that were successfully rehabilitated by WIRES carers and rereleased at sites in Campbelltown, Hawkesbury, the Lower Blue Mountains and Sutherland Shire LGAs. These koalas were rescued by wildlife carers in busy urban areas or in bushfire and drought affected regions. Some have needed long periods of time in care and were treated for a range of ailments including disease, burns, dehydration, road or dog attack injuries. We work closely with koala carers to monitor the health of the released koalas and if necessary they are taken back into care if further attention is required.

What’s next for Royal ?

The reintroduction of Royal the koala back into the Royal National Park offers our team and volunteers an exciting opportunity to learn more about how koalas survive and thrive in wild. We will be watching him closely using the radio-tracking device, as he gets to know his new home.

Radio-tracking devices have been used on koalas for decades, and in this case they allow the Science for Wildlife team to monitor the welfare of the rehabilitated koalas, and also learn more about how our koalas use the landscape after fire.

By tracking Royal and other koalas regularly, we are beginning to get a clearer picture the risks koalas are facing for successful reestablishment by observing their health and movements in urban, bushfire and drought affected areas.

– Brie Sloggett, Science for Wildlife Field Ecologist

The Importance of Community Participation in Wildlife Conservation

Community participation in wildlife conservation is imperative to the survival of our koalas, especially after such devasting bushfires like the ones of last season. Thanks to the quick actions of local wildlife rescuers, this particular koala was able to be rescued, rehabilitated and released back into the wild, far away from the threats of developed suburban life.

As stated by our Executive Director Dr Kellie Leigh:

Part of our work is to provide opportunities for the broader community to get involved in conservation. Given he was found near people’s backyards, this koala has highlighted how important it is for communities to be involved in koala conservation.

S4W, WIRES and NPWS socially distancing during Royal’s release back
into the wild

Community participation in wildlife conservation was also encouraged by NSW Environment Minister Kean, who reminded the residents of the Sutherland Shire that they too can help the conservation effort by becoming more koala aware, driving slower in known koala hot spots and keeping dogs under control, especially at night. He also gave this community some guiding advice, stating:

Another important thing people can do is know what to do when they see a koala on the road or in a tree, including reporting it via the ‘I Spy Koala’ app and calling their local National Parks & Wildlife Service office. If it looks sick or at risk, call WIRES.

To learn more about the Koala Post-Rehabilitation Study, visit our project page here.

For projects updates and to learn more about Science for Wildlife community, visit our projects page here.