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Monitoring Rehabilitated Koalas At Two Release Sites On The Gold Coast

Ben Nottidge 1, Jon Hanger 2, Andrew Tribe 1, Leisa Green 1

1 School of Animal Studies, University of Queensland, Gatton, Queensland 4343 

2 Dreamworld, Dreamworld Parkway, Coomera, Queensland 4210 

ABSTRACT

Koala populations in the Gold Coast area are under threat from habitat loss through land development, dog attacks and motor vehicle accidents. Animals that are not killed from these impacts are sometimes rescued, rehabilitated and later released back into the wild, usually in their area of origin. Although the translocation of these animals is a relatively common practice, little post release monitoring has been carried out and reported to assess the success of the animals in the wild.

This study monitored the movements and health of 27 rehabilitated and translocated koalas over two separate studies: one conducted by Wildcare Australia in 1995-1996, the other in collaboration with the University of Queensland. Two sites in the greater Gold Coast area were chosen: Coombabah Lakelands Conservation Area and Kokoda Barracks. The results indicate that while all but three of the released animals established new home ranges during the tracking period, the release site was critical to this process. Coombabah Reserve, with its close proximity to urban areas and high density of resident koalas, was found to be unsuitable for the males released into it. In contrast, 22 of the 23 reintroductions into Kokoda Barracks appeared to be successful, suggesting that this area may retain more suitable habitat for translocation of this species. Consequently, while this study confirms that the reintroduction of koalas may be a viable management strategy, the release area must be chosen carefully. Thus it is recommended that further research of sites such as the Coombabah Reserve be undertaken before they are used for future releases.