Koala tracking survey starts at Cleveland

TREES IDENTIFIED: KAG members Debbie Pointing, Marian Henbery and Chris Bray at a remnant eucalypt in G.J. Walters Park, Cleveland. It had one koala and a second tree nearby on private property had two.

TREES IDENTIFIED: KAG members Debbie Pointing, Marian Henbery and Chris Bray at a remnant eucalypt in G.J. Walters Park, Cleveland. It had one koala and a second tree nearby on private property had two.

IF you see people climbing and marking trees and catching koalas at places like Cleveland and Toondah it’s okay.

Endeavour Veterinary Ecology scientists with the help of Koala Action Group members are catching and fitting GPS radio collars to koalas as part of a 12-month monitoring program.

This week a five minute walk at G.J. Walters Park and Shore Street turned up three koalas in the marsupial hot spot.

The work will include input from noted koala scientist Deidre de Villiers.

KOALA HOT SPOT: This koala was in G.J. Walters Park, near Toondah Harbour.

KOALA HOT SPOT: This koala was in G.J. Walters Park, near Toondah Harbour.

Ms de Villiers gained widespread recognition when she chronicled the crash in numbers of the state’s largest remaining koala colony in the Redlands.

She and Dr Harriet Preece – whose work was used to help save animals by methods like building road tunnels or overpasses in the right places – were the state environment department’s only dedicated koala ecologists when retrenched by the Newman government.

KAG president Debbie Pointing said the radio collars were  fitted with a break-away section that would come apart should the animal become snagged.

“If anyone sees one of these collars at the bottom of a tree, please let us or Endeavour know so we can retrieve it,’’ she said.

Ms Pointing said Redland City Council gave her organisation $6000 of a $10,000 grant application for the work so funds were still sought.

The study was essential so the evidence about koalas and their habitat could not be dismissed.

The group was seeking donations to track up to six koalas, depending on how much more money was raised.

Koala numbers have crashed in the Redlands over the past 20 years, with 80 per cent lost, according to a state government report. A major part of the issue appears to be development of prime coastal habitat in areas like Toondah Harbour.

The precinct faces further development pressure, with the proposed $1.3 billion harbour expansion. Further details are at chuffed.org/project/help-save-our-toondah-koalas

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