NPWS calling for koala spotters

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is calling for community volunteers to assist with the 8th annual community koala survey program in Bongil Bongil National Park.

Bongil Bongil community koala survey project

NPWS Coffs Coast Area Manager Glenn Storrie said the purpose of the surveys is to monitor the relative abundance of koalas in the national park over time, as well as gather observations about their distribution, health and breeding behaviour.

"Bongil Bongil National Park protects important, high quality habitat for koalas in NSW and is home to one of NSW’s largest wild koala populations," he said.

“Over the past seven years, more than 300 community volunteers have assisted us with this important survey which helps us to understand how the population is faring over time,” said Mr Storrie.

“Last year, our volunteers spotted 10 koalas and, using audio call back technology, heard the vocalisations of 14 koalas.

“Based on the last seven years of data, we were able to conclude that the population is stable, healthy and exists from one end of the national park to the other.

“Bongil Bongil comes alive after dark. Guided by an experienced wildlife ranger, a walk through the eucalyptus forest after dark is a truly unforgettable experience.

“Late September to early October is koala breeding season, so we expect the Bongil Bongil population to be on the move, vocal and easy to spot.

“We’re asking volunteers to sign up to complete up to five night-time surveys between Thursday 24 September and Saturday 10 October.

“We’re hoping to complete 25 surveys in total, so there are lots of opportunities to get involved,” said Mr Storrie.

Volunteers will walk along gravel fire trails in Bongil Bongil National Park, using spotlighting and audio call-back technology to survey the koalas.

All equipment will be provided. NPWS will implement COVID-safe measures during training and surveying.

NPWS has been monitoring koala numbers in Bongil Bongil National Park since 2013.

A short information and training session for prospective volunteers will be conducted at the NPWS office near the Coffs Harbour Jetty on Monday 21st September at 6pm.

Those interested in participating in the program or who would like to know more are urged to contact NPWS Ranger Martin Smith on 6652 0907 or martin.smith@environment.nsw.gov.au.