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Conservation organisations , Aussie Ark, Re:wild and WildArk, with the Australian Reptile Park have successfully confirmed the presence of Koalas at Mongo Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. The revelation follows initial baseline surveys revealing zero presence of the endangered species on the site. 

Mongo Valley Wildlife Sanctuary is a 1500-hectares of bush habitat in Upper Mongogarie New South Wales. The site is located approximately 30 kilometres from the world heritage listed Mallanganee National Park and 70 kilometres from the Richmond Range National Park. The soon to be sanctuary is located within one of the most bio-diverse regions in Australia, reflected by the diversity of vegetation communities which support a range of mammals, birds, reptiles, frogs, and invertebrates.

Following the baseline surveys of the site, the organisations were not convinced that not a single koala would call the site home. The land is prime Koala habitat, and they should be in abundance on site. As a result, Aussie Ark upscaled surveys on the land, utilising motion sensored camera and manual survey techniques.

During this process onsite Rangers discovered markings on trees that indicated they had been used by Koalas, as well as koala scat. Moreso, the motion triggered cameras captured incredible images of koalas! Including one with a joey on back. 

“Koalas are a national icon and are significant to our environment. When our initial surveys came back with zero presence of the species on our land, we were devastated” said Liz Gabriel, Deputy Managing Director of Aussie Ark. 

She continued “It’s a result we clearly weren’t willing to accept, and so we increased our site monitoring. Finding that first Koala, with a joey on her back no less, was beyond incredible. It really highlights the critical importance of projects like this in wildlife conservation” 

The surveys were undertaken as part of the organisation’s plans to rehabilitate the site through the creation of a fenced safe haven, tree planting and rewilding lost species. With the support of Connoisseur and NUII, the site will also become home to a Koala breeding facility. Both NUII and Connoisseur have committed funds to help with phase one construction of necessary facilities for the project. 

The Koala project supported by NUII and Connoisseur, will be a critical step in protecting the endangered species, and protecting their populations. It will work towards creating long term, action-based outcomes for the species. Additional works are also being undertaken within the wildlife sanctuary to plant up to 100,000 trees to support the rewilding of native species, as well as large scale noxious weed removal. 

“Finding evidence of wild koalas living in the Mongo Valley Wildlife Sanctuary has been so exciting! We knew this was prime koala habitat so it was a real highlight for the team to find evidence of their presence on our camera traps. This reaffirms our mission to protect and rehabilitate this property for both the koalas living here now, and for future introduced individuals,” says Kirstin Scholtz, General Manager of WildArk.

The findings come at a significant time for wildlife in Australia. In July the 2021 State of the Environment Report was released, and hundreds of pages revealed the dire straits of wildlife within Australia. It acknowledged the need for collaborative conservation in Australia, and the place that habitat protection, regeneration and insurance populations could serve in the battle to protect wildlife.   

The “Planting for the Future” campaign is currently running, and Aussie Ark and WildArk are calling on Aussies to help plant a tree! From just $5 you can help support their ambitious goals, and help iconic animals, just like the Koala, in the process.