10 Mar 2015 14:49:15
Funding Koala Research
WILD LIFE Conservation Fund is excited to announce that it has begun funding a new Koala Conservation Project for 2015.
Information about koala feeding patterns is believed to be the key to understanding their distribution in the wild. There are over 800 species of Eucalyptus across Australia, varying in toxicity and nutritional value. Currently, data on what species of Eucalyptus koalas prefer to eat is minimal. Consequently, the correlation between the size and health of koala populations and the types of leaf available to them is largely unrecorded. Research would help answer the question of if variation in soil types and leaf quality can explain the patchy distribution of koalas.
The project involves fitting koalas with radio collars. This important piece of equipment allows a team of researchers to track how far these koalas move, how often they encounter other koalas and, of particular interest, what these koalas eat. Researchers learn what koalas have eaten through a chemical analysis of their poo and leaves in a laboratory. Support from WILD LIFE Conservation Fund will enable researchers to continue and expand their koala research and monitoring program.
The project is led by Ben Moore, senior lecturer at the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, along with a team of researchers including Kellie Leigh from Science For Wildlife.
The Blue Mountains region has been chosen for the study because of its historical significance as the site of the first encounters between European settlers and koalas. Unfortunately, sightings of koalas in the area are now rare. This research aims to compare the quality of koala diets in the Blue Mountains to koala diets in other parts of Australia in order to determine if changes in the availability of certain Eucalyptus are the cause of their disappearance from this area.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Keep an eye of for WILD LIFE Conservation Fund fundraising events that you can attend later this year. To donate to the project now, email WLCF@merlinentertainments.com.au.
If you want to get directly involved, the program also welcome volunteers to assist with locating and tracking koalas, as well as in the lab. If you are interested in this opportunity, also send us an email.