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Aussie Ark Conducts Thermal Drone Surveys of Wild Koala Population in Protected Sanctuary! 

Aussie Ark, alongside our partners WIRES, veterinary teams from the University of Sydney and contractors from Ripper Corp drone pilots, have conducted broad scale koala population surveys in our wild protected wildlife sanctuary, the Barrington Wildlife Sanctuary.

The works were supported by Aussie Ark partners WIRES and were undertaken to determine the abundance of Koalas within the area, as well as to undertake testing to check for disease presence. The two major pathogens affecting koalas are Chlamydia pecorum, leading to chlamydial disease and koala retrovirus (KoRV).

“This survey work was a critical step for Aussie Ark moving forward. We knew through our own internal survey works that we had a substantial population of Koalas within our sanctuary. However, utilising this incredible thermal drone technology to spot them from the air allowed us to get a more detailed look” – Hayley Shute, Manager of Conservation 

The team at Aussie Ark spent 5 nights in the field starting at midnight in freezing conditions, working first with the Ripper Corp thermal drone pilots to spot the thermal pattern of a koala. A designated ‘watcher’ was then deployed to sit under the tree the koala was found in and watch its movements until first light when the koala catching team was engaged. 

At first light the koala catcher, vet, and Aussie Ark rangers were onsite, to safely restrain the koala and take the necessary samples needed for the testing to be done. Once this process was complete, each koala was released to the tree it was found in and monitored for a short while to ensure its safety.

“Being in the Barrington Wildlife Sanctuary in the middle of the night was like nothing else, it was teeming with wildlife. All of which were free to move around without threat from introduced feral predators – as they should be. Watching the drone cameras light up at every turn with different species of wildlife was so exciting”

Following a week of intense field work, a total of seven koalas were swabbed and tested by the teams. The samples have been taken to the lab at Sydney University where they will be processed, and a report compiled.

Each of the koalas we tested were beautiful. They were all a healthy weight and showed all the right signs of being incredibly healthy. Which is a positive start.

Should no disease presence be found, Aussie Ark will continue to support the incredibly healthy population of koalas within their Barrington Wildlife Sanctuary.

You can donate today to support Aussie Ark in its mission to save Australia’s threatened and endangered wildlife.