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KOALA ARK

KOALA ARK

The World’s First & Largest Koala Sanctuary

IUCN Status: Vulnerable
NSW: Vulnerable to Endangered
QLD: Locally extinct populations, endangered

Considered one of the most iconic species of Australian wildlife, the Koala is an aboreal folivorous marsupial known for its ash-grey fluffy fur. Koalas are slipping under the radar, populations in Southern Australia are healthy while some populations in the northern Australia half of the population have gone extinct. They have a broad range spanning 3,000kms and due to their large range, they are often viewed as a wholistic population. The northern half and sub species in NSW and QLD has had catastrophic loss and is on trajectory for extinction by 2050 at the current rate of decline.

This project will improve the species’ trajectory and create a safe haven preventing extinction should the pattern of decline continue. While approximately 1,000 Koalas exist in captivity in Australia, due to poor genetics and disease risk, the captive population does not provide any level of support to the wild population, rather, is a critical vector for community to learn and engage with the species.

Threats

Due to the niche diet and habitat requirements of this species, and also the large and varied threats they face in the wild, Koalas are in decline throughout most of their natural range. Their decline is mostly due to wide-spread habitat destruction, bushfire and disease. Land clearing resulting in habitat loss is the single biggest threat, reiterating the critical need for the protection of remnant habitat. The species also faces threats of habitat fragmentation due to a lack of habitat corridors, dog attack, and road strike. Over 80% of Koala habitat has been lost with the remaining 20% fragmented and vulnerable to intense bushfire which has an ability to decimate remaining populations within only days, as seen recently in the 2019 NSW Bushfires.

Distribution

Koalas have lost 80% of habitat from their former range and are severely fragmented throughout in what remains.

Impact

Species Recovery

1. The Project will achieve species recovery with Koala Ark being the first project to impact the trajectory of wild Koalas in NSW by protecting approximately 7% of the wild population.

2. Koala Ark will enable rehabilitated Koalas to be released to a safe wild environment with a soft release into 3 stages of wild environments (400Ha, 1000Ha, and 5000Ha) all which are monitored and managed for their protection.

Habitat Recovery

3. Koala Ark will move into habitat recovery, protecting 7,000 hectares of habitat for Koala.

Deliverables

Aussie Ark prides itself on its pioneering successes in species recovery of threatened Australian wildlife through the establishment of robust insurance programs that are genetically representative of their species and behaviourally suitable for wild release, all while achieving cost effectiveness and creating populations suitable for re-wildling.

Koala Ark as a project of Aussie Ark, will deliver the following actions:

• Protection of 7,000 hectare of Koala habitat within the NSW Barrington region through exclusion fencing

• Secure a wild population of 1,000-1,500 Koalas (Koala home ranges can be between 2-4 hectare per individual in suitable habitat. With over half of Koala Ark being preferred Koala habitat; over 1,300 Koalas will call Koala Ark home.)

• Protection from intense bushfire

• Weed management including removal of the invasive Scotch Broom (Cytisus scoparius)

• Removal of introduced species inclusive of horse, pigs, goat, cat and fox from protected areas

• Baseline surveys of fauna and flora present before and after protection of land is established

• Long-term monitoring of the sanctuary by field officers

Budget

Already completed
Supply of accommodation, vehicles, equipment, machinery, resource
Secured land of 7,000hectare of koala habitat in the NSW Barrington Region
Yet to be completed
$173 per hectare of land protected with feral exclusion fencing $864,850
Research and associated activities including radio tracking post release for
6 months in a wild landscape $2,233 per individual
$111,650
Bio-mapping and ecological survey of protected area $20,000
Weed management and site rehabilitation $62,000
Koala Hub / Joint research station $25,000
(total cost of centre $180,000 split between multiple projects)
Fire Management
(initial investment of machinery and proactive low intensity fire control)
$80,000
Long-term monitoring program
500 x $150 motion sensor cameras $75,000
3 years x $45,000 time in the field by wildlife officers $135,000
TOTAL COST OVER 3 YEARS$1,373,500

Time frame: 3 Years – Expected completion 2022