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Malani's Koala Family Adventures - March 2024

We’re back, with some exciting adventures to share.

After an initial disheartening start to our koala adventure, I have finally spotted my very first koala in the wild!

From Dubbo, we headed down to Narrandera to participate in their local koala count and festival. We had the pleasure of connecting with some very knowledgeable people in the field and learnt so much about this precious koala population.

Around 20 koalas were introduced to Narrandera Nature Reserve, along the banks of the Murrumbidgee River in the early 1970s from French Island, north coast NSW and south-east QLD. This was the first official translocation of koalas for conservation in NSW!

During the koala count, 112 people split into 3 groups to explore different sections of the reserve. Between us all, only 30 koalas were spotted, including 5 joeys. I’m told these numbers are not reflective of the actual numbers that reside here. Old flooding prevented driving access to areas deeper in the reserve and therefore we could only cover a limited section by foot. Nevertheless, I had lots of fun, despite the low numbers and crooked neck from looking up into the tall River redgums.

Afterwards, we headed down to the Narrandera koala festival to enjoy an afternoon of koala themed entertainment and information by local and regional wildlife and environmental groups.

Representatives from NSW National Parks & Wildlife and the Narrandera Koala Regeneration Advisory Committee were present to provide valuable insights into Narrandera’s unique koalas.

Did you know that this small koala colony of about 20 in the 1970s has now grown to more than 290 koalas over 1600 hectares? It is currently being studied as part of the $190 million NSW Koala Strategy, as a model for how to re-establish populations.

It’s exciting to learn about all the research that is happening here and gives me hope for their future.

Drones with thermal cameras have been used to count the koalas and sound recorders are being installed in national parks, and on Crown land and farms along a 100km stretch of the river.

New DNA testing has shown low levels of inbreeding and revealed that Narrandera koalas are the most genetically diverse in southern NSW, with bloodlines from their Victorian, northern NSW and south-east QLD still present!

If that news isn’t exciting enough, to date, this population is also disease-free! That’s right, NO chlamydia!

After exploring so many extinct or near extinct koala populations in country NSW, it was refreshing to be surrounded by a population that is considered to be a sustainable one.

I am so thrilled to report that my mum and I had the opportunity to explore Narrandera Nature Reserve multiple times during the day and night, and I managed to spot 9 koalas, including 1 joey. Finally, I have some numbers to add to my ‘Wild Koala Tally’!

I even spotted and rescued a stranded turtle from the side of the road. It was a very hot day, and the poor turtle was a long way from the river. After ringing WIRES for advice, I picked him up and released him down by the river. He swam away happily, and I walked back to the van feeling grateful that I was able to help.

Narrandera’s koalas, its community and its spaces were all so beautiful. From the moment I arrived at the free camping grounds along the river, to the moment I left, passing by the gorgeous koala art on their water tower, my heart was full of love and appreciation for this place.

Even though it was so difficult to leave, I knew many more adventures awaited.

In next month’s newsletter we will begin to explore Victoria.

You can follow the journey on Instagram here

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  • Murray Munro
    published this page in News and Events 2024-03-21 13:33:34 +1000