GPS collars pinpoint koala population

A GPS koala tracking study in Wingecarribee has mapped more than 3,000 koalas in the Southern Highlands, making it the largest known koala population in southern NSW, Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton announced today.

Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) wearing radio collar

The Saving our Species conservation project, which collected data from more than 450 surveys and 20 koalas tracked with GPS collars, has been extended into Wollondilly on the back of its success.

“As part of the extended project six to eight koalas in Wollondilly will be fitted with a GPS collar for NSW Government ecologists and Wollondilly Council to track their movements and preferred food trees,” Ms Upton said.

“This project will also pinpoint the bushland corridors that koalas use to move across the landscape, creating a map to help guide future conservation efforts.”

Almost $100,000 from the NSW Government’s flagship $100 million Saving our Species program will fund the project extension for 100 koala spotlight surveys, up to eight GPS collars and koala habitat assessment.

Wollondilly Shire Council General Manager Luke Johnson said pilot surveys have already yielded promising results, with eight koalas found over four nights at sites in Appin, Wilton and Douglas Park.

“This project is particularly significant as it links the well-known Campbelltown and Southern Highlands Koala populations,” Mr Johnson said.

“With a clearer picture of the health, size and distribution of Wollondilly’s koalas we’ll see how these populations interact enabling us to best manage their habitat.”

With 36,000 koalas estimated to be left in NSW, this research and data will help councils incorporate the information into their conservation efforts to protect koalas. It will also feed information into the development of the NSW Government’s Koala Strategy and Saving our Species Koala Iconic Species project.

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