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Strzelecki Koala Updates November 2023/December 2023

Some updates from 'Koala land' regarding what SKAT has been up to over the past couple of months. It's certainly been hectic. A couple of big events are looming fast, the first being the Strzelecki Koala Festival this year to be held in Sale and the upcoming launch of a new koala documentary 'The Koala'.

Some of the attendees at SKAT's visit to Morwell National Park in October 2023. Photo Marcela Lehocka

First things though, Friends of the Earth is embarking on a membership drive. We are requesting that anyone interested in the plight of Victorian koalas and in particular the Strzelecki Koala, become a member of Friends of the Earth, the largest grass roots environmental federation in the world. New membership strengthens the alliance and will put you in contact with a range of interesting people and campaigns. This link provides you details about how to join the SKAT collective as a FoE member.

The Strzelecki Koala Festival is now in its second year. This year the festival will be held at the Sale Botanical Gardens on the 10th of December from 10am to 2 pm. A promo for the festival can be found here. We need help for a stall on the day.

The Koalas - Documentary Project

In late 2022, Anthony Amis and Susie Zent were interviewed at Morwell National Park for a koala documentary called 'The Koalas'. The film makers, Georgia Wallace-Crabb and Gregory Miller, were in Victoria to highlight the plight of koalas in plantation areas of the Strzelecki's, Ballarat and South West Victoria. The documentary will also shed light on the plight of koalas in New South Wales and Queensland. The film makers are trying to raise $20,000 to finish off the film. You can donate some money for this exciting national project here.

The photo below (from the film) shows Maryvale Pulp Mill which has dominated forest politics in Victoria since 1937. Somehow Strzelecki koalas managed to survive ecocide and hunting to near extinction in the 19th and early 20th century and then the construction and operation of this mill and the logging that fed into it, throughout the rest of the 20th century.

SKAT has completed its 3 year survey work at Mullungdung State Forest. We have received the good news in early November that Biolink will analyse our survey data and give it the scientific credibility it requires. Hopefully this work will be completed in early 2024. Funding for the analysis has come from the Lachlan Abbott legacy project which people can still donate to. SKAT will put together a short video in the near future regarding what we have found at Mullungdung. We estimate a koala population of between 150-300 animals.

Graph explains where scats were found in Mullungdung State Forest during surveys between 2020-2023. Clearly there is a preference for creekline vegetation, probably due to higher leaf nutrients and preferred koala feed trees that dominate these riparian zones (mainly Mountain Grey Gum and Swamp Gum). With a warmer climate these riparian areas will become even more significant. Fire mitigation should be directed at protecting these key Ecological Vegetation Classes.

SKAT is also attempting to collect koala scats for research conducted by Federation University on the edges of the Strzelecki bioregion. The research is attempting to determine the range of the Strzelecki koala. We only have until April 2024 to get as many scats as possible. We have found scats under redgums along the Latrobe and Thomson Rivers at Sale. Another two days were unsuccessful in looking for scats between Poowong and Drouin and near Briagalong. If you want more information on where to send the scats to contact [email protected]. This video also helps explain the process.

Scats collected at Sale, Herb Guyatt Reserve on the Thomson River

Our next online meeting will be occurring on Thursday December 14 2023 at 6.30pm. Please note that this has changed from the normal first Thursday of the month. You can join the meeting by either coming into the FoE office or via zoom on this link.

For more information contact: [email protected]


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