Koalas in the Clarence Valley

Calling all citizen scientists and wildlife enthusiasts! Clarence Valley Council is keen to learn about where you've seen koalas.

We are collecting data on where our koalas are located to help conserve this iconic species. The koala register will let you pin point a koala sighting location on a map. You'll also be able to add more information about the sighting.

Furthermore, local koala release sites are lacking and so we are seeking nominations for suitable sites. If you think your property would make a suitable koala release site - nominate it! Head to the Release Site Nomination tab to fill in the form.

Calling all citizen scientists and wildlife enthusiasts! Clarence Valley Council is keen to learn about where you've seen koalas.

We are collecting data on where our koalas are located to help conserve this iconic species. The koala register will let you pin point a koala sighting location on a map. You'll also be able to add more information about the sighting.

Furthermore, local koala release sites are lacking and so we are seeking nominations for suitable sites. If you think your property would make a suitable koala release site - nominate it! Head to the Release Site Nomination tab to fill in the form.

  • Test your koala knowledge for World Wildlife Day

    about 1 month ago

    To mark World Wildlife Day (3rd of March), we have launched a quick poll quiz about koalas. Complete the quiz (quick poll tab) and see how your koala knowledge stacks up!

    Once you submit a selection, the answer will appear in a yellow box above the poll with more information to assist you in learning more.

    Thanks to Vickii Lett from WIRES for developing the quiz and creating a fun way to learn more about our fluffy friends.


    A koala joey in Lawrence, enjoying the leafy habitat! Image courtesy of D. Getaz.

    To mark World Wildlife Day (3rd of March), we have launched a quick poll quiz about koalas. Complete the quiz (quick poll tab) and see how your koala knowledge stacks up!

    Once you submit a selection, the answer will appear in a yellow box above the poll with more information to assist you in learning more.

    Thanks to Vickii Lett from WIRES for developing the quiz and creating a fun way to learn more about our fluffy friends.


    A koala joey in Lawrence, enjoying the leafy habitat! Image courtesy of D. Getaz.

  • Koalas seeking water following wildfire

    3 months ago

    A koala is provided with water from a bottle following recent bushfires. If providing water, koalas must be able to lap at the water, as pouring water directly into their mouth can unintentionally result in water entering their airways. Image courtesy of J. Facelli.


    The news and social media is being flooded with images and videos of koalas being fed water after the recent wildfires across the east and south coast of Australia.

    The name koala* comes from an Aboriginal word meaning “no drink”. Their unique name comes about because koalas will generally get sufficient water via their diet of...

    A koala is provided with water from a bottle following recent bushfires. If providing water, koalas must be able to lap at the water, as pouring water directly into their mouth can unintentionally result in water entering their airways. Image courtesy of J. Facelli.


    The news and social media is being flooded with images and videos of koalas being fed water after the recent wildfires across the east and south coast of Australia.

    The name koala* comes from an Aboriginal word meaning “no drink”. Their unique name comes about because koalas will generally get sufficient water via their diet of eucalypt leaves and are rarely seen to drink water as a result. That's not to say that koalas don't drink at all. Occasionally, koalas will need extra hydration when their water balance needs are influenced by external factors.

    Metabolic water loss in koalas begins when the ambient temperature rises above 35 degrees Celsius, but the water loss that occurs on hot days can be replenished from their diet alone, so long as the evening temperature falls below 28 degrees Celsius. If the night time temperature doesn't drop sufficiently then access by koalas to free water is required.

    As a side note, koalas can also actively cool down by panting and sitting against tree trunks to cool their bodies.

    In some parts of Australia, these temperature differentials are becoming a concern. As a result, the concept of permanent watering points for koalas, known as 'Blinky Drinkers', was developed by researchers at the University of Sydney and experimentally trialed on the Liverpool Plains / Gunnedah area where heat-stress can be a real issue for koalas.

    View a short video about Blinky Drinkers: Koalas driven to drink by climate change

    Read more about Blinky Drinkers: Ecologist Phil Spark to detail report showing the way to save Gunnedah's koalas | Gunnedah's Project Koala: How drinkers might help save our own Blinky | Koalas are thirsty for your help | Bigger and better 'Blinky Drinkers' to quench koalas' thirst this summer

    We often get requests from members of the public to install 'Blinky Drinkers' for our local koala population. In the Clarence Valley, it is believed to be unlikely that local temperature differentials will force koalas to seek free water, even under future climate change scenarios.

    The original Blinky Drinker trials were interesting but identified that a downside of the 'Blinky Drinkers' is that they not only attracted koalas, but also attracted predators such as foxes. There were, as a result, some concerns that the cure (access to free water) might be worse than the initial problem (Ie. if the koala attending the drinker consequently gets killed by a fox).

    There is also a risk that if a Blinky Drinker is provided and the animal gets used to receiving water, but it is not managed in perpetuity, then the koala/s will be negatively impacted as a consequence. As a result, local ecologists and koala experts generally do not support the installation of Blinky Drinkers east of Great Dividing Range.

    Given the recent habitat loss through wildfire, access by koalas to sufficient browse, and therefore water, may be impacted. Therefore, they may be seen seeking out free water while the landscape recovers.

    It isn't encouraged that permanent watering points are established, however temporary watering stations may be provided in crisis scenarios as a short-term measure. Koalas must be able to lap at the water, as pouring water from a bottle can unintentionally result in water entering their airways, and access to water sources by household pets must be avoided. Mount the supply safely, inspect it daily, and replace the water often to prevent the spread of disease. Any installed water stations should be removed when natural water sources become available.

    Download fact sheets about providing water for wildlife: Wildlife drinking stations | Providing water for koalas

    Find more information about providing help to koalas after wildfire: NSW Government - Helping wildlife in emergencies | Koala Country - Help NSW Koalas

    If you feel a koala is in need of assistance, contact your local wildlife carers: NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service Inc. (WIRES) on 1300 094 737 or go online.

    ---

    TL/DR: Heatwaves and droughts change the moisture content of the koala's eucalypt leaf diet, increasing their need to seek water.

    *Many unique names have been identified, including Cullewine, Koolewong, Colo, Coloo, Coola, Colah, Koobor, Koolah, Kaola, Karbor, Boorabee, Goribun and Koala.


  • Symptoms and signs of illness in koalas

    3 months ago

    When recording a sighting on the Koala Register, a question will appear that asks if the koala is sick or injured. Your answer could be 'yes', 'no', or 'unsure'. Often the latter is the answer that comes back, however additional comments provided have helped us to identify several individuals that may actually have been in need of assistance and direct the observer to contact local wildlife carers.

    While entering a 'yes' value in the response field in an observation record will not trigger Council to contact to wildlife carers, the information is of interest to see the...

    When recording a sighting on the Koala Register, a question will appear that asks if the koala is sick or injured. Your answer could be 'yes', 'no', or 'unsure'. Often the latter is the answer that comes back, however additional comments provided have helped us to identify several individuals that may actually have been in need of assistance and direct the observer to contact local wildlife carers.

    While entering a 'yes' value in the response field in an observation record will not trigger Council to contact to wildlife carers, the information is of interest to see the extent of issues. It can also be a good reminder for you, as the observer, to take action and help our wildlife. You don't need to be a trained professional to know what to look for - a keen eye is all you need!

    There are a range of reasons a koala may be sick, and these may manifest in sluggishness or a change in their behaviour. One of the most common causes of illness in koalas is Chlamydia, which is a sexually transmitted infection. Chlamydia can cause conjunctivitis (which may in turn result in blindness), urinary tract infections, reproductive system infections (which may in turn result in infertility), pneumonia, and death. While the infection itself or its symptoms of infertility and pneumonia cannot be easily identified by a casual observer, there are some signs that you can easily detect.

    Urinary tract infections resulting from Chlamydia can cause a lack of control of the bladder, a sign known as wet bottom, which is visible as a brown discolouration on the bottom. Note, however, that koalas can frequently get a discoloured bottom from sitting on a gummy branch, or sitting in mud after a wander to a creek. If the discharge is really dark and in a broad area with some crusting from prolonged urine dripping, then help is required.

    Koalas that have conjunctivitis, a common symptom of chlamydia, will have pink and swollen eyes, sometimes with discharge. Even just a slightly pink rimmed eye calls for attention. Conjunctivitis can cause blindness if not caught early, which can be seen from cloudy eyes. If a koala has become blind, then this symptom may manifest in behavioural changes such as a lack of fear response to the presence of humans, an inability to navigate climbing a tree, a tendency to stand on the ground rather than seeking height, and slower movement than usual.

    While infection from chlamydia can cause the death of a koala in the wild, if caught early and treated, they can make a full recovery.

    If you notice behavioural anomalies in a koala, or you can see it has swollen eyes, cloudy eyes, or wet bottom, call NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service Inc. (WIRES) on 1300 094 737 or go online. Experienced, trained handlers will advise what should be done to assist the koala. If you are unsure if a koala needs help, it is wise to seek advice from a trained professional.

    See below for some examples of the signs to look for. Please note that some of the images are graphic and may cause distress.

    If the images do not appear, click the header of the article (or here) to view it in full.


    A male koala emerging from a territorial fight, showing signs of wet bottom.


    A male koala, nicknamed Barlaagany, was picked up by WIRES carers after showing signs of wet bottom.


    A male koala, nicknamed Barlaagany, was picked up by WIRES carers after showing signs of blindness through cloudy vision, lack of fear when approached and difficulty navigating the landscape.

    A male koala, nicknamed Ramornie Bob, was picked up by WIRES carers after showing signs of conjunctivitis. Ramornie Bob was later released back into the wild after a round of antibiotics.


  • Koala Food Trees in the Clarence

    5 months ago
    Clarence Valley Council hosted three Koala Food tree Identification Training sessions in November, with support from the NSW Government Saving our Species project. The workshops were presented by Clarence Valley Council NRM Project Officer, Caragh Heenan, and local botanist, Jeff Thomas.

    The half day workshops included a summary of current koala distribution and habitat in the Clarence Valley, information on eucalypts that are food trees for koalas and some in depth training on botanical terms to assist with eucalypt identification. Attendees received the brand new Koala Food Trees in the Clarence Eucalypt Identification Guide and plenty of resources to assist...

    Clarence Valley Council hosted three Koala Food tree Identification Training sessions in November, with support from the NSW Government Saving our Species project. The workshops were presented by Clarence Valley Council NRM Project Officer, Caragh Heenan, and local botanist, Jeff Thomas.

    The half day workshops included a summary of current koala distribution and habitat in the Clarence Valley, information on eucalypts that are food trees for koalas and some in depth training on botanical terms to assist with eucalypt identification. Attendees received the brand new Koala Food Trees in the Clarence Eucalypt Identification Guide and plenty of resources to assist them on their botanical journey.
    The public sessions were attended by 28 keen and enthusiastic members of the public and an additional session for 19 CVC staff from the planning and developing team was also a success.

    Thank you to everyone that came along and especially to Jeff Thomas for being such a knowledgeable resource to draw upon.

    The Koala Food Trees in the Clarence flip book is now available. Contact Caragh Heenan (Project Officer NRM) from the Clarence Valley Council Natural Resource Management team via email to receive your copy. Include your postal address if you wish for it to be mailed to you. Alternatively, you can download an electronic copy.


    This project has been assisted by the New South Wales Government through its Environmental Trust and Saving Our Species.

    Eucalypt descriptions in the guide were replicated with permission from the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust (Sydney NSW) via PlantNET at http://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/, 2019

    Eucalypt images in the guide were replicated with permission from the Centre for Australian National Biodiversity Research (Director of National Parks and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Canberra ACT) via EUCLID at http://keyserver.lucidcentral.org:8080/euclid/data/02050e02-0108-490e-8900-0e0601070d00/media/Html/index.htm, 2019

    Eucalypt and koala distribution in the guide were mapped with data from the Atlas of Living Australia website at http://www.ala.org.au, 2019
  • The devil is in the detail

    6 months ago

    Where an animal was sighted and the time that it was observed are the most important pieces of information for us when it comes to your data and using it to direct management decisions within council and state government. When it comes to data, the devil is in the detail and we need your help! One way around the problem is to use an App on your phone when taking photos.

    IPhone: Context Camera is available on the Apple iStore and can be used to record the latitude/longitude as decimal values inset on a photo, as well as a date/time...

    Where an animal was sighted and the time that it was observed are the most important pieces of information for us when it comes to your data and using it to direct management decisions within council and state government. When it comes to data, the devil is in the detail and we need your help! One way around the problem is to use an App on your phone when taking photos.

    IPhone: Context Camera is available on the Apple iStore and can be used to record the latitude/longitude as decimal values inset on a photo, as well as a date/time stamp - two very handy bits of information!

    Android: GPS Map Camera is available on the Google Play Store and can be used to record the latitude/longitude as decimal values inset on a photo, as well as a time stamp - two very handy bits of information! Once opening the App, click on the second icon from the top left, scroll to half way down the list and select Map + Lat/Long. This will provide us with a visual and numerical representation of location as well as a date/time stamp!

    For example, the photo below was taken today, the 25th of September 2019, at 1:30PM of a few trees in the park across from the Council Rushforth Rd depot at 121 Tyson St, Sth Grafton (-29.716, 152.927). This image was taken with Address and Lat/Long, but the Map + Lat/Long is even better!



  • Wildlife and domestic dog interactions - have your say!

    7 months ago


    Pets provide companionship and are a wonderful part of our lives. The wildlife are also an integral part of the environment and worthy of protection. Clarence Valley Council is seeking feedback from domestic dog owners regarding the interaction between their dogs and wildlife via an online survey - https://www.clarenceconversations.com.au/dogsandwildlife. Survey responses remain anonymous and we value your opinion, so please take the time to complete the survey and let us know what you think. With your help, we can ensure that our domestic dogs and our wildlife are both cared for.


    Pets provide companionship and are a wonderful part of our lives. The wildlife are also an integral part of the environment and worthy of protection. Clarence Valley Council is seeking feedback from domestic dog owners regarding the interaction between their dogs and wildlife via an online survey - https://www.clarenceconversations.com.au/dogsandwildlife. Survey responses remain anonymous and we value your opinion, so please take the time to complete the survey and let us know what you think. With your help, we can ensure that our domestic dogs and our wildlife are both cared for.

  • Koala Register Update

    over 1 year ago


    The sightings for the Koala Register have been coming in, and so have the nominations of release sites - thanks to all that have been getting involved! To show you some of the interesting registered sightings, we have put together this infographic - Download



    The sightings for the Koala Register have been coming in, and so have the nominations of release sites - thanks to all that have been getting involved! To show you some of the interesting registered sightings, we have put together this infographic - Download


  • The Koalas in the Clarence Register goes live!

    over 1 year ago

    Clarence Valley Council have been working with the Office and Environment and Heritage through a NSW Environment Trust grant to deliver improved outcomes for the vulnerable koala population in the Clarence.

    The funded work will include on-ground activities to address threats to koalas, including loss of food and habitat, fire, pest animals and barriers. Education material will be developed and disseminated to identified landowners in koala habitat to help protect the last remaining individuals.

    As part of the program, we have launched the Koala Register! The register will enable us to gather data on where koalas are in the landscape...

    Clarence Valley Council have been working with the Office and Environment and Heritage through a NSW Environment Trust grant to deliver improved outcomes for the vulnerable koala population in the Clarence.

    The funded work will include on-ground activities to address threats to koalas, including loss of food and habitat, fire, pest animals and barriers. Education material will be developed and disseminated to identified landowners in koala habitat to help protect the last remaining individuals.

    As part of the program, we have launched the Koala Register! The register will enable us to gather data on where koalas are in the landscape to further learn about why they prefer a particular habitat, why certain habitats contain more species than other similar habitats, and why they are declining from particular areas. By understanding their distribution, we can determine the conservation value of regional zones and further develop management guidelines for natural resources.

    Get involved and register a sighting!

    Happy sharing and thanks for being involved!