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Calls for community koala survey volunteers

Media release: 26 August 2013

The community is being offered a chance to become citizen scientists helping look for koalas in key habitat areas in Bongil Bongil National Park, south of Sawtell, with annual surveys for this iconic species, starting early next month.

This September the National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) is set to embark on the ongoing survey for koalas in Bongil Bongil National Park and is enlisting community volunteers keen to help look after their local environment.

NPWS Ranger Martin Smith said the community surveys aim to establish a sound estimate of how well koalas are doing in the Park over time”.

“Volunteers will be trained up and equipped to conduct night time surveys over fixed transects within the national park to identify koalas and any other wildlife they might encounter”.

“Bongil Bongil National Park provides some of the most important, permanently conserved coastal habitat for koalas in NSW and is very important to the continued presence of this iconic Australian animal on the Coffs Coast.

“The regular surveys are a great way for empowering people to be involved in their environments and communities.

“A comprehensive survey of Koalas in the area in 1995 by a University of New England academic, Andrew Smith, estimated that the Koala population in the wider Pine Creek area was around 400-600 animals”, he said.

“But since that time there has been no detailed study of these Koalas on a landscape scale to see how they are faring”.

“We have selected 5 sites across sections of the Park where these surveys will be routinely conducted, year after year”, said Mr Smith.

The surveys will be conducted just after sunset in the middle of the koala breeding season in late September, early October, a time when Koalas are on the move and most vocal.

“Five teams of five people are needed to walk these trails at night using gear supplied. They will be asked to make a long term commitment to the program”, said Mr. Smith.

The teams will undertake a 2 hour survey every 4 nights, a total of 5 nights work over 16 days.

Those interested in participating in the program are urged to contact Martin Smith at the NPWS Coffs Harbour office. Telephone 6652 0900.

Contact: Lawrence Orel

Page last updated: 27 August 2013