Friends of the Koala, with the support of Southern Cross University and Lismore City Council, have embarked on a first -– radio-tracking koalas in Lismore’s urban area.
‘Mathew’ was recently treated at the Friends of the Koala Care Centre for conjunctivitis caused by Chlamydia.
At 5-6 years of age he is in the prime of his life.
Being an urban koala, he has had to face the challenges of cars, dogs and a limited food supply, yet he managed until disease took its toll.
Without treatment, which extended beyond two months and involved daily medications and care, Mathew would have died.
Prior to release Mathew was given a thorough veterinary examination by Australia’s koala specialists at the Australian Wildlife Hospital in Beerwah.
During the check a collar was fitted so his movements and health can be monitored back in the wild.
On Saturday Mathew returned to the area where he came from as is required by the Department of Environment and Climate Change, the agency responsible for issuing licences for the rescue and rehabilitation of native animals.
“We are very excited about this project” says Care Coordinator Barb Dobner.
“While all koalas taken into care are tagged on release, we have not previously had the opportunity to follow a koala so closely to monitor its movements and health, post release.
“Mathew is the first of several urban koalas we hope to monitor in this way.”
The project’s aim is to research the movements of urban koalas and how animals which have been brought into care cope when released back into an urban situation.
Dr Ross Goldingay, Senior Lecturer in Wildlife Ecology at Southern Cross University, is the project’s scientific supervisor.
Lismore City Council has purchased radio-tracking collars.
The Australian Wildlife Hospital is providing veterinary support and will fit the collars.
Tracking will be undertaken by trained Friends of the Koala volunteers.
“Friends of the Koala believe koala numbers in Lismore are diminishing,” says president Lorraine Vass.
“The present pilot, which we envisage will be ongoing, is bringing together stakeholders with a common concern for the future of Lismore’s urban koalas.
“Information gained from tracking will enable the Council and Friends of the Koala to work together for the improved management of our significant urban population.”
People interested in joining the Friends of the Koala to help its koala conservation work can phone the Koala Rescue Hotline on 66221233 or visit www.friendsofthekoala.org