Mother and joey koala. Photo by Simone Halloran
Kangaroo Island wildlife authorities are reporting good results from a sterilisation program as they strive to rein in koala numbers that threaten the very habitat needed to sustain them, the ABC reported last week.
In Queensland, New South Wales and the ACT, koalas are on the threatened species list, but on Kangaroo Island the biggest problem is overpopulation.
Now, wildlife officers are claiming success with a sterilisation program, saying they expect the number of koalas on the island to fall to a sustainable level within the next few years.
The program has been underway since 1996, with 11,000 female koalas sterilised so far.
The population was estimated at 27,000 when a count was made in 2001. Since then, according to Robyn Molsher from Natural Resources KI, numbers have dropped to fewer than 13,000.
“We’re just about in a maintenance phase now where we just have to keep sterilising a small number each year just to keep numbers stable and declining,” she said.
“We’re not trying to wipe them out completely, we’re just trying to keep them at a sustainable density where they’re not impacting the trees.”
The conservation program has also involved planting more trees, such as blue gums on the island.
The next koala census is due on the island in 2015.
Story By Catherine Murphy.