MORE than 50 people have turned out to look for koalas in Cleveland, with 19 healthy koalas spotted.
Koala Action Group spokeswoman Debbie Pointing, whose group organised the August 6 walk, said all of the koalas were within a 1.5km range of GJ Walter Park in Shore St East, Cleveland.
The park and associated foreshore area and remnant vegetation will be impacted by the proposed $1.4 billion Toondah Harbour development.
“It was very positive to see that number of koalas, which included five babies and it certainly attracted plenty of attention from the community,’’ Ms Pointing said.
“We anticipate that some of the koalas sighted will take part in the GPS tracking project planned to start later this year.
“The aim of the project is to collect data to show where the koalas in this area are moving each day, which roads they are crossing and the habitat and other trees that are most frequented.
“Importantly, the data will also provide vital information on each koala’s home range (territory) which may be impacted on by future development.’’
Ms Pointing said the program would have GPS collars fitted to individual koalas.
Base stations strategically placed in the area would automatically download their movements twice a day.
“Our group firmly believes that more must be done to protect the koalas living in this area,’’ she said.
“They are a huge asset for Cleveland tourism and tourist operators have told us they can guarantee their clients will see koalas in this area.”
A crowd funding project has been launched by the group to conduct the scientific work.
Money will be used to buy the GPS tracking devices to help determine the number of koalas in the Toondah Harbour area.
The project will run for up to 12 months and up to six koalas will be collared and tracked, depending on how much money is raised.
You can help by visiting http://www.chuffed.org/project/help-save- our-toondah- koalas. More details www.koalagroup.asn.au https://www.facebook.com/HelpSaveOurToondahKoalas