An informative monthly newsletter about successes & important announcements in koala conservation, and the latest scientific publications about koalas.

April 2021

Subscribe here: https://mailchi.mp/808fc4af1ee0/koala-news-science

Lots of great events for Wild Koala Day coming up on/around 3 May
Stop Killing Koala Trees. Now, no exceptions! is the theme for 2021 Wild Koala Day. The Australia-wide day will see events in Victoria, NSW and Queensland.

  • Koalas of Joyner Wild Koala Day tree giveaway 2 May
  • Moreton Bay Koala Rescue Wild Koala Day event Redcliffe Markets 2 May
  • Eurobodalla Koala Recovery Strategy Launch 3 May
  • Tree planting around Bangalow NSW 4, 11, 12, 18 May and more
  • Weed removal for koalas in You Yangs VIC 1 May
  • Tree planting around You Yangs VIC starts 2 June and continues: 5, 13, 19, 21, 24, 25, 27 June

See more: https://www.wildkoaladay.com.au/whats-on/

Draft koala Recovery Strategy for South-east NSW 20 April
Eurobodalla Koalas are calling for stricter planning controls, rope bridge overpasses and community tree planting. The draft strategy will be launched on May 3, Wild Koala Day, and is available for comment here: https://eurokoalas.files.wordpress.com/2021/04/draft-recovery-strategy-revised-edition.docx.pdf

Wild Koala seminar on May 5 at Campbelltown, NSW
Four leading koala academics: Asst Prof David Phalen, Dr Ben Moore, Dr Kellie Leigh and Dr Steve Phillips, will present at the public event at the Campbelltown Arts Centre on May 5. More info: https://www.campbelltown.nsw.gov.au/WhatsOn/WildKoalaDayTreePlantingEvent/WildKoalaSeminarExpertsInKoalatown

$1million to plant koala trees VIC 22 April
Crypto-currency giant Binance are allocating AUD $1million to planting 100,000 koala trees in Australia. The first half of the funding is going to Koala Clancy Foundation, VIC for 40,000 trees in East Gippsland and around the You Yangs.

Huge koala corridor continues northern NSW 8 April
Bangalow Koalas have planted 100,000 koala trees across the Northern Rivers region since February 2018, and there’s a lot more to come, with support from WWF, IFAW, One Tree Planted and others.

Shenhua Watermark Mine cancelled NSW 20 April
The enormous proposed coal mine for the Liverpool Plains, home to koala habitat, has been withdrawn, with the NSW government to buy back the remaining mining lease from the mining company.

Koala plans in Tweed & Byron shires approved at last NSW 31 March
After a delay of 5 years, the NSW government have finally approved Koala Plans of Management for Tweed & Byron Shires. Many other KPoMs remain to be approved.

New koala tree nursery opens in Lismore 28 April
Friends of The Koala have opened their new expanded koala tree nursery on the grounds of Southern Cross University, with funding support from L’Occitane, One Tree Planted and the Foundation for National Parks. The nursery will be able to provide 80,000 trees annually.
and https://www.nbnnews.com.au/2021/04/28/friends-of-the-koalas-bushfire-recovery-nursery-launched/

Armidale Koala Strategy Draft open for public comment NSW 30 April
The draft strategy for Armidale region is open for comment until 31 May. Register here: https://yoursay.armidale.nsw.gov.au/koala-management-strategy

Disease-fighting proteins discovered in koala pouches 15 April
Dr Emma Peel, Prof Kathy Belov from the University of Sydney and Cheyne Flanagan from Koala Hospital talk to Nick Grimm on ABC radio AM about the discovery of peptides that fight chlamydia in koala pouches and milk.



Peel E, Cheng Y, Djordjevic JT, O’Meally D, Thomas M, Kuhn M, et al. (2021) Koala cathelicidin PhciCath5 has antimicrobial activity, including against Chlamydia pecorum. PLoS ONE 16(4): e0249658. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0249658

Devastating fires in Australia over 2019–20 decimated native fauna and flora, including koalas. The resulting population bottleneck, combined with significant loss of habitat, increases the vulnerability of remaining koala populations to threats which include disease. Chlamydia is one disease which causes significant morbidity and mortality in koalas. The predominant pathogenic species, Chlamydia pecorum, causes severe ocular, urogenital and reproductive tract disease. In marsupials, including the koala, gene expansions of an antimicrobial peptide family known as cathelicidins have enabled protection of immunologically naïve pouch young during early development. We propose that koala cathelicidins are active against Chlamydia and other bacteria and fungi. Here we describe ten koala cathelicidins, five of which contained full length coding sequences that were widely expressed in tissues throughout the body. Focusing on these five, we investigate their antimicrobial activity against two koala C. pecorum isolates from distinct serovars; MarsBar and IPTaLE, as well as other bacteria and fungi. One cathelicidin, PhciCath5, inactivated C. pecorum IPTaLE and MarsBar elementary bodies and significantly reduced the number of inclusions compared to the control (p<0.0001). Despite evidence of cathelicidin expression within tissues known to be infected by Chlamydia, natural PhciCath5 concentrations may be inadequate in vivo to prevent or control C. pecorum infections in koalas. PhciCath5 also displayed antimicrobial activity against fungi and Gram negative and positive bacteria, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Electrostatic interactions likely drive PhciCath5 adherence to the pathogen cell membrane, followed by membrane permeabilisation leading to cell death. Activity against E. coli was reduced in the presence of 10% serum and 20% whole blood. Future modification of the PhciCath5 peptide to enhance activity, including in the presence of serum/blood, may provide a novel solution to Chlamydia infection in koalas and other species.


Kayesh MEH, Hashem MA, Tsukiyama-Kohara K. Toll-Like Receptor Expression Profiles in Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells Infected with Multiple KoRV Subtypes. Animals. 2021; 11(4):983. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11040983


Toll-like receptors (TLRs), evolutionarily conserved pattern recognition receptors, play an important role in innate immunity by recognizing microbial pathogen-associated molecular patterns. Koala retrovirus (KoRV), a major koala pathogen, exists in both endogenous (KoRV-A) and exogenous forms (KoRV-B to J). However, the expression profile of TLRs in koalas infected with KoRV-A and other subtypes is yet to characterize. Here, we investigated TLR expression profiles in koalas with a range of subtype infection profiles (KoRV-A only vs. KoRV-A with KoRV-B and/or -C). To this end, we cloned partial sequences for TLRs (TLR2–10 and TLR13), developed real-time PCR assays, and determined TLRs mRNA expression patterns in koala PBMCs and/or tissues. All the reported TLRs for koala were expressed in PBMCs, and variations in TLR expression were observed in koalas infected with exogenous subtypes (KoRV-B and KoRV-C) compared to the endogenous subtype (KoRV-A) only, which indicates the implications of TLRs in KoRV infection. TLRs were also found to be differentially expressed in koala tissues. This is the first report of TLR expression profiles in koala, which provides insights into koala’s immune response to KoRV infection that could be utilized for the future exploitation of TLR modulators in the maintenance of koala health.


Norman Janette A., Christidis Les (2021) A spatial genetic framework for koala translocations: where to?. Wildlife Research , -.


Wildlife translocations are gaining acceptance as a valuable conservation tool for threatened Australian fauna. The 2019–2020 bushfire crisis has significantly affected koala habitat across four states, and translocations, when properly implemented, could facilitate the demographic and genetic recovery of affected populations. Current translocation policies lack an appropriate spatial framework to guide conservation actions and this could lead to unexpected or undesirable outcomes with the potential to hinder population recovery. To address these concerns, we propose development of a spatial framework based on knowledge of population genetic structure and population-specific dispersal patterns estimated from molecular data. At an operational level, application of a spatial genetic framework obviates the need to specify restrictive translocation limits, reduces reliance on subjective interpretations of population structure, and provides the potential to improve translocation success and conservation outcomes. We strongly encourage implementation of a spatial genetic framework and its integration into the decision-making process for selection and prioritisation of release sites for translocated koalas by wildlife carers, researchers and wildlife managers. The proposed framework would also support koala conservation and management more broadly.



Cumming, SH, Martinez‐Taboada, F Dopamine and dobutamine may be ineffective at managing hypotension in anaesthetised koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus). Vet Rec Case Rep. 2021;e262. https://doi.org/10.1002/vrc2.62

Miguel CD, Saniotis A, Cieslik A, Henneberg M. Comparative Study of Brain Ontogeny: Marsupials, Humans and Other Eutherians. Research Square; 2021. DOI: 10.21203/rs.3.rs-418220/v1. https://europepmc.org/article/ppr/ppr315569


Diagne, C., Leroy, B., Vaissière, AC. et al. High and rising economic costs of biological invasions worldwide. Nature 592, 571–576 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03405-6


Biological invasions are responsible for substantial biodiversity declines as well as high economic losses to society and monetary expenditures associated with the management of these invasions. The InvaCost database has enabled the generation of a reliable, comprehensive, standardized and easily updatable synthesis of the monetary costs of biological invasions worldwide3. Here we found that the total reported costs of invasions reached a minimum of US$1.288 trillion (2017 US dollars) over the past few decades (1970–2017), with an annual mean cost of US$26.8 billion. Moreover, we estimate that the annual mean cost could reach US$162.7 billion in 2017. These costs remain strongly underestimated and do not show any sign of slowing down, exhibiting a consistent threefold increase per decade. We show that the documented costs are widely distributed and have strong gaps at regional and taxonomic scales, with damage costs being an order of magnitude higher than management expenditures. Research approaches that document the costs of biological invasions need to be further improved. Nonetheless, our findings call for the implementation of consistent management actions and international policy agreements that aim to reduce the burden of invasive alien species.


Previous Koala News & Science here: https://www.wildkoaladay.com.au/koala-news-science/march-2021/

Written by Janine Duffy President, Koala Clancy Foundation.
with support from Cheryl Egan, Organiser, Wild Koala Day
Please send your positive, important news & publications to president@koalaclancyfoundation.org.au before 29th of each month for possible inclusion.