BY ROBERT CLOSE
21 Mar, 2012 01:00 AM
NO koala sightings were reported on the UWS pager this week as the koalas continue their autumnal quiet time.This gives us the opportunity to transfer all the previous reports from paper records to the database. This job, which entails entering several details for each sighting, is a large one and our list of sightings now exceeds 3000. Then we have another 3000 or so locations from our radio-collared animals and details of 400 captures.
Our public sightings include historical records, so before I gave a talk last week on koalas to the students of Cawdor Public School, Lynn, our database keeper, found a reference to koalas being killed for their pelts on Razorback Range, Cawdor, in the 1920s.
Koalas may still exist there given that koalas are very difficult to see and also that koalas are always dispersing across the landscape. Any koalas moving beside the Nepean River could easily move into the Razorback Range.
The Cawdor students now know how to recognise koala scratch marks, faecal pellets and bellows so are hoping to find local koalas. They also raised money for the care of injured koalas at the Wildlife Health and Conservation Centre, Cobbitty.
This centre does a phenomenal job with local injured koalas. However, looking after injured koalas is a labour-intensive, expensive job and the centre needs all the financial help it can get.
Our database was also called on recently by the National Parks Association which is campaigning against a 2700-house development at Heathcote Ridge, West Menai.
The association wanted to know if we had any records of koalas from the Menai site. We were able to supply three records of sightings from within 1.5 kilometres.
The Australian Koala Foundation then used their vegetation mapping knowledge to plot the areas of the site and surrounds that are most likely to support koalas. Then the foundation added to the map our three sightings and several sightings that were recorded in the Wildlife Atlas of sightings held by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Three of these sightings were on the edge of the site’s footprint and a further dozen were within one kilometre. Most of the actual clearing, however, will occur in lesser quality habitat but there will always be pressure on local wildlife from the combined effects of cars, dogs, arson and erosion that accompany such large ventures.
Report koala sightings on the UWS pager, 9962 9996.