Koalas, stubborn conservation dogs, and a shout out to our volunteers
It’s been a busy few months of fieldwork, as we work to expand our Blue Mountains Koala Project into new areas and new habitats.
First up, I’d like to say thanks to all the dedicated volunteers that came out koala spotting with us in Wollemi National Park recently. That includes our special guests from our Project Partner San Diego Zoo who came out to lend a hand. Koalas at these remote sites are incredibly elusive and hard to find due to the steep nature of the terrain and the tall tree canopies, but with the help of all those extra eyes we managed to find and catch two male koalas (named Cucumber and George for various reasons) and fit them with tracking collars. These boys are now giving us regular insights into which habitats they prefer.
With the help of Badger our koala detection dog, we have also found a couple of other areas that had fresh koala poop in them so we are planning more surveys. Even the scats are hard to see – in one instance Badger gave a clear indication he’d found koala scat but I couldn’t see it in the leaf litter and kept asking him to put his nose on it, so he eventually picked it up in his mouth and spat it at me! Good dog Badger.
Most recently, we camped out on a mountain ridgeline to listen for koala bellows, in an area where we’d had one sighting of a female koala. I was hoping there would be a few males around as koala mating season is well underway. But alas, that little audio- survey will have to be a redo, as we got hit by thunderstorms that evening and apparently only researchers are silly enough to be out on a ridgeline in a storm, we didn’t see or hear a single koala.
However, Badger did find 5 fresh scats the next morning, so it’s worth another visit when the whether improves and the koalas might have climbed back up the hill.
In the meantime, please don’t forget to report your koala sightings to us!