Meet Kali the Koala!

In celebration of International Women’s Day earlier this month, we’re shining a spotlight on one of our impressive, strong and resilient female koalas – Kali!

The Science for Wildlife team started tracking Kali in 2017 and have gotten to know her quite well in that time. She was originally part of our pilot study at our second study site in Kanangra-Boyd National Park, and was one of the first koalas we discovered there.

Kali is a homebody, and generally sticks to a very small area of trees. This has made it easy for the team to radio-track her when out undertaking ecological studies, and has made her a popular koala to find when showcasing a koala out in the wild. When spotted, Kali will always look down at our team as if to say hello. Other koalas are not so curious and often ignore the tracking team.

Kali is an extremely resilient koala and has never been phased by human presence or changes to her environment, even during the bushfire season.

Featured: Kali the Koala! Pictured by S4W Volunteer Amy Davis

Re-birth amongst the devastating bushfires

The name “Kali” comes from a Hindu Goddess representing re-birth and the Divine Mother, which is a fitting name for our koala Kali who has had a joey every year since the S4W team have been monitoring her.

Kali was one of the 12 koalas to be rescued by the Science for Wildlife team during the 2019 / 2020 bushfire season, and was kept at Taronga Zoo Sydney until it was safe to release her back into the wild. You can read more about this incredible project here.

After Kali was rescued from the Blue Mountains area during the bushfires, she didn’t have a joey in her pouch which seemed odd to the S4W team as she would usually breed each year. Kali was one of the first Koalas to be released back into the wild once the habitat had regenerated enough to make it a liveable area (read more about the release of these Koalas here.

On her release day, she had a nice surprise for the S4W team, and had a little joey in her pouch! She had conceived before being rescued and given birth at the zoo.

Dr Kellie Leigh who discovered Kali’s joey had this to say at the time:

I’m really delighted that we’ve just let the first of our koala’s go, Kali. We’ve just discovered that she also has a joey, so we took out 12 from the approaching fire and now we’ve got 13 going back which is great!”I’m really delighted that we’ve just let the first of our koala’s go, Kali. We’ve just discovered that she also has a joey, so we took out 12 from the approaching fire and now we’ve got 13 going back which is great!”

Kali and her surprise Joey were featured in a Sydney Morning Herald article as a ray of hope amongst the devastating bushfires. Read the full article here.

An Independent Female Koala

Kali had been monitored by the S4W team for 3 years, which is the longest period we will study any koala. The time had come to take Kali’s collar off, and Dr Kellie Leigh was organising a farewell capture day with the long-term volunteers who had assisted with Kali’s tracking.

The news must have reached Kali, because just two weeks before the team was due to catch her and remove her collar Kali discarded it herself, most likely with the help of her large joey. It was impeccable timing.

The team will miss her, it was S4W volunteer Amy Davis who fondly described Kali as a koala she imagined “sitting with a cup of earl grey tea with a crocheted blanket over her knee, keeping an eye on the kids”.

Because of Kali’s small home range, there is a chance we might still spot her out in the wild so despite our team no longer tracking her, we hope to occasionally see her looking down at us from the tree tops.

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