GPS Tracking Being Used in Koala Conservation Efforts

20 May 2019

The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and the Forestry Corporation are conducting research on koalas on the New South Wales  mid-north coast in forests. They’re fitting 10 koalas with GPS tracking collars in an effort to monitor their movements and stop the serious decline in their numbers.

The researchers are studying the amount of state forest logging that’s affecting the koalas’ movements and assessing if there are enough protection zones put in place. They also are trying to determine how much of the regeneration areas the koalas are using after harvesting and how much of the young trees that follow a harvested area they are using.

This research, according to the clinical director of Koala Hospital, Cheyne Flanagan, is one more step towards saving the koalas in Queensland and NSW from extinction.

The research is to go on for about 12 months, depending on how long the batteries last in the GPS tracking collars that are transmitting the data.

They have already fitted two koalas, Traecey and Dazza, with GPS technology and released them. And, they have already received intriguing information tracking Traecey’s movements through unlogged and logged terrain.

They can see the types of trees she uses. It appears she uses trees in the shade with dense foliage, likely due to the warm weather, trying to keep herself cool.

They also wanted to see how often Traecey used logged areas with regenerating, young eucalypts, instead of mature forests. This research will help provide the researchers with information about koala health.

Both Traecey and Dazza were treated for the bacterial disease, ocular chlamydia, at the Koala Hospital before they were released. This disese can lead to infertility and blindness. Hot, dry summer days affect many koalas and worsen diseases. They also increase the chlamydia incidence since the koloas aren’t coping.

About Koalas Extinction Status

The Australian Government declared Koalas “vulnerable” in April 2012 under the Federal

EPBC Act in Queensland, the Act and New South Wales.

Wild koalas face many threats to their continuing survival. Loss of habitat is the main threat. Other threats are:

 

  • Increased disturbance by humans
  • Injury or death from cats and dogs
  • Injury or death from traffic
  • Increased competition for territory and food due to overcrowding
  • Increased stress on the koalas, making them more vulnerable to disease
  • Effects of garden pesticides in waterways

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