The future of suburban koalas in south east Queensland is in the hands of our communities. It is through community awareness, education and resident action will we be able to provide for the needs of koalas and ensure their long-term future.
Russel the Koala
On the afternoon of Thursday 3rd September 2020 we were called out to check on a koala that was trapped in a resident’s back yard in Coombabah. According to the resident he was disoriented and distressed as he couldn’t make his way out.
By the time we arrived the koala had managed to find a way to climb the fence after many failed attempts.
After leading us on a wild goose chase, we finally located this mature male (a couple of properties over in an early childhood centre). He had calmed down after his little ordeal chewing away in a melalueca tree. He was too high up for us to do anything but we asked the resident to keep an eye out and let us know if he came back to their property.
Don’t Fence Me In
We got a call in the morning of the next day that the koala (whom the resident named Russel) had entered their yard but was finding it challenging to climb another fence out.
She managed to place a laundry basket and hold it tight to the ground till we arrived.
Russel was sent to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital for a check up, as the resident had reported that just before we arrived Russel had climbed half way up the fence and got his head stuck between missing palings and was crying out loud. The resident managed to assist Russel by holding his weight and guiding his head out of the gap.
The dangers and hindered movement of koalas through our properties due to fences is a serious issue facing our koalas living in our suburbs.
These call-outs highlight the importance of providing safe and easy ways for koalas to travel through our increasingly built-up urban environments.
Koalas Are Territorial
Looking at a Google map the property next door had recently been developed into a townhouse complex. Most likely it may have formed part of his range. Quite possibly it may have contained some of his favourite trees that are no longer there.
Being an older koala he may have been going back to the place where these trees may have stood and was disorientated when they were no longer there. He may also have been looking for mates within his range.
What Can You Do to Help Koalas?
Some simple things we can do to help our suburban koalas are:
To put yourself in the shoes..I mean paws of a koala and think what do you as a koala need.
• Ease of Movement:
How difficult is it for a koala that enters your yard to be able to get out again?
Colorbond fences are impossible for koalas to scale.
A simple fix is to securely place a log up against the fence.
When we went to collect Russel we left a big branch for the resident to be able to fix to the fence. The branch was to a thickness that could support a koala and to a height that would assist a koala to scale the fence.
Trees planted close to the fence line can also help. These lilly pilly trees helped Russel to be able to get down off the fence in the adjacent property.
• Food and Rest:
Does your yard provide any food or resting trees?
Pets & Koalas
Are your pets kept secure?
Keep your dogs in during the hours between dusk and dawn. This will prevent encounters that could harm your dog and prove fatal for koalas. If you have space in your yard keep your dog to a restricted area, and having logs or branches along your fences will allow koalas a quick escape.
Pools & Koalas
If you have a pool also ensure there are no overhanging branches close to the pool fence.
Maintain your pool fence so that koalas and other wildlife can’t enter.
Koalas have drowned in pools especially in extended periods of dry weather as they take advantage of any water sources . As an extra precaution always have a floating device with a secured rope in the pool so that animals who find themselves in the water have less chance of drowning and are able to climb out of the pool.
Be a Koala Conscious Community
A really good way to keep our koalas safe and ensure the long-term survival in your area is to create a strong koala-conscious community.
Create Your Koala Community Action Plan
Get together with your neighbours and create a koala community action plan that begins to see your neighbourhood not as a collection of private properties but as an environment that supports and sustains koalas.
You can discuss strategies to help the movement of koalas, how you intend to keep them safe from your pets, where you could plant food trees.
Coming Together To Save Our Koalas
When we come together as a community and begin to see our neighbourhoods as environments that are homes to other creatures and do so in a holistic way we can begin to find solutions that connect us to our communities and all its inhabitants.
Urban Green and Koala Connectors
We are developing a pilot project for River Downs, an area in the suburb of Helensvale on the Gold Coast. The area consists of acreage lots and is home to many koalas. The project goal is to connect community with biodiversity through greater awareness of the needs of koalas and other wildlife and ways as individuals and residents they can have a lasting positive impact on the future survival of wildlife in the area.