Koala sighted in Kosciuszko National Park

A koala has been spotted in Kosciuszko National Park for the first time in more than 70 years.

Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) in Kosciuszko National Park

National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Area Manager Matt White said the koala was spotted near the Snowy Mountains Highway last month.

“The koala appeared to be a healthy male casually crossing the road in the Blowering section of the Park,” Mr White said.

“It continued towards a stand of eucalypts and was seen climbing up one of the trees where it stayed looking quite content.

“Actual recorded sightings of koalas in this area are very rare with one record from Batlow in 1940 and an unconfirmed record from Talbingo.

“We’re not sure if the sighting is an isolated individual who has wandered in looking for suitable vacant habitat or marks the discovery of a previously unrecorded wild population.

“Even more exciting was that the animal was spotted in an area of the park that has been the subject of a major revegetation program.

“The Blowering Foreshore Revegetation program has seen more than 800,000 trees planted on land that was once cleared for farming.

“The trees that have been planted are suitable food and habitat and the sighting is proof that the project is doing exactly what it intended, restoring a healthy natural ecosystem,” Mr White said.

NPWS has undertaken an integrated pest management program in and around the site for the last 20 years targeting wild dogs and foxes so this sighting could indicate that predators are being controlled to the point where vulnerable species are able to exist in the landscape again.

NPWS officers have been back out to the area to try and locate the animal to confirm its health.

“Our next step is to survey the immediate area for further individuals and possibly extending the survey further afield.

“If anyone comes across a koala in the area we would love to hear about it and ask people to please contact the NPWS Tumut office on 02 69 477000,” Mr White said.

The sighting comes as the NSW Government launches public consultation on a state-wide Koala Strategy that aims secure and eventually increase koala numbers in NSW.

Photos: www.flickr.com/photos/nswnationalparks/albums/72157677422150485