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Spot a koala joey

News release
11 May 2018

Your photo of a koala mother and young koala joeys outside of Mikkira station could help Natural Resources Eyre Peninsula understand the secret lives of koalas on southern Eyre Peninsula.

NRM Officer Andrew Freeman said reporting sightings of koalas with joeys is a great way of participating in the EP Koala citizen science project because it helps increase our collective understanding of how far koalas have spread on Eyre Peninsula since first being introduced in 1969.

Outside of Mikkira Station wild koalas are hard to spot so we are calling for the community to assist by sending in photos of koalas with joeys to www.epkoalas.com.au

“Now is the perfect time to start keeping an eye out,” Mr Freeman said. “Koalas breed from September to February, therefore any early December conceived joeys could be starting to emerge from the pouch now.

“Generally joeys stay in the pouch for up to six months, so you could start to see them on their mother’s backs from as early as March, and now through to their peak in spring.

“At Mikkira they are noticed most with young during August, however we are trying to establish if there are koalas with young outside of Mikkira.

“Natural Resources EP is particularly keen to hear from you if you spot a koala with a young joey outside of Mikkira because we really don’t know if local koalas are simply moving around and returning to the main breeding ground of Mikkira, or if they have smaller breeding populations out there somewhere on southern EP.”

Koalas give birth to a single joey, born after a 33 to 35 day pregnancy. Both male and female koalas are mature enough to reproduce at three years of age. Koalas need healthy trees to survive and they eat approximately half a kilogram of leaves per day.

“We’ve recently completed an assessment of the health of trees within the currently known koala habitat.

“The assessment included Manna gum woodland sites at Mikkira Station and other sites further afield, such as around Tulka, close to Wanilla Forest and near Marble Range, where threatened EP Blue Gum woodlands grow.

“Tree health at these sites is important because they are some of the furthest locations away from Mikkira Station where community have reported koala sightings.

“Our field work involves scoring the leaf cover or canopy of eucalyptus trees, taking monitoring photos called photo-points so we can see the change in trees over time, as well as recording any koalas or any signs of koalas such as scratching on bark and scats around the base of the trees.”

Weed control within these woodlands is also crucial health and longevity of trees. Work is well underway to removal of invasive olives, Aleppo pines and Italian buckthorn woody weeds that directly compete and stress eucalypts for water, light and soil space.

Citizen scientist Simon Bey said he recently saw a koala on his property in Port Lincoln and reported it to the epkoalas website.

“The koala was on a manna gum that I planted many years ago. I couldn’t believe it had found the only manna gum on my property, but it is well known that they love eating the leaves of manna gums.

“I decided to use the epkoalas online reporting tool to help Natural Resources work out where koalas are getting to. This tool was easy to use and I encourage others to report any sightings they have.

“I also work with the Port Lincoln Scout group, and we have been involved with collecting local Manna Gum seed to grow food trees for koalas,” Simon said.

For further information call us on (08) 8688 3111 or visit www.landscape.sa.gov.au/ep/get-involved/citizen-science

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Communications and Engagement Officer

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