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Koalas spotted in new parts of Australia, including upper Blue Mountains!
A baby koala clings to its mother's back.
PHOTO: Australia’s iconic animal was found to be particularly picky about where it chooses to live. (Dave Hunt: AAP)
Koalas have been found living in parts of Australia where they have never been seen before, researchers say.
A nationwide survey by the National Parks Association (NPA) found the animal living in the upper Blue Mountains of New South Wales, for the first time.
They have also been spotted in the NSW Southern Highlands, Port Stephens and Maitland, as well as known hot spots in the Northern Rivers and Gunnedah, also in NSW.
“I think the population is just so low that people weren’t sure that they were even still there,” said Dr Grainne Cleary of the NPA.
“They are just at such low density, unless you’re going out looking for them you just don’t see them.
“Some of it could have to do with the connectivity and that the koalas can move back into these areas that they weren’t found in before.”
What more can be done to bolster Australia’s koala populations? Readers made their suggestions below.
The NPA recruited the public to participate in the Great Koala Count by going in search of the animal and sending in their findings.
More than 850 people took part and logged about 920 koala sightings over the course of 10 days in November.
Dr Cleary says the results will help communities bolster conservation efforts.
Story By Joanna Woodburn.
Counting koalas for conservation
To protect koalas we have to get a handle on why they are threatened.
“This data goes very much back to the community that collected it to help protect their koalas,” she said.
“They’re looking at planting trees in areas where koalas are to increase connectivity between populations – now I can give them a map of where their koalas are.
“We’ll also give it to the councils to make sure they can include it in their koala comprehensive management plans.”
The survey also shows koalas are picky about where they choose to live, opting for good quality land and soil.
“If the vegetation was right you will get high densities in certain areas, which was interesting,” said Dr Cleary.
Known hot spots such as the Northern Rivers and Gunnedah featured strongly in the survey.
There were also results from the Gold Coast and Brisbane, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.
The Great Koala Count will be held again next year.
Story By Dan Lunney.