An informative monthly newsletter about successes & important announcements in koala conservation, and the latest scientific publications about koalas.
April 2024
Subscribe here: https://mailchi.mp/808fc4af1ee0/koala-news-science

Wild Koala Day is on May 3 and we have the biggest program of events ever.

Wild Koala Day Events around Australia:

Wednesday 1 May to 5 May:
Wild Koala Day Art Show | Koala Action Inc QLD

Thursday 2 May:
Wild Koala Day Information Webinar | Koala Clancy Foundation ONLINE

Friday 3 May:
Wild koala day with the Detection Dogs for Conservation | University of Sunshine Coast QLD

Sunrise Guula (Koala) Yoga | Koala Hospital Port Macquarie NSW

Wild Koala Day tree planting event | Mornington Peninsula Koala Conservation VIC

Tree planting for Wild Koala Day | WWF & Koala Friendly Carbon NSW

Tree give away for Wild Koala Day | MidCoast Council NSW

Plant a tree for our furry friends on Wild Koala Day | Campbelltown Council NSW

Wild Koala Day Raffle launch | Care4esK QLD

Saturday 4 May:
Tree planting for Wild Koala Day | Moreton Bay Koala Rescue QLD

Wild Koala Day weeding and wildlife walk | Koala Clancy Foundation VIC – SOLD OUT

Sunday 5 May:
Wild Koala Day Event at Old Petrie Town | The Y & Pine Rivers Koala Care QLD

Spot a koala for Wild Koala Day | City of Moreton Bay QLD

Tuesday 7 May:
Audio Recordings for Koalas | International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) & Koala Clancy Foundation ONLINE

Thursday 9 May:
Koalas & Victoria’s Native Forests | Victorian Forest Alliance ONLINE

Sunday 19 May:
Living with Koalas Forum | Koala Action Gympie Region QLD

Wednesday 22 May:
Koala Tree Planting | Bangalow Koalas NSW


Full page ads call for end to logging in NSW state forests 10 April
Dozens of well-known Australians have signed the call for the NSW government to stop logging public native forests, especially in the area of the Great Koala NP.

Koalas sold off for bogus carbon credits in NSW 9 April
A fascinating interview about what really is holding up the formation of the Great Koala National Park. Listen, it’s really worth it.
More information here too:

10 Local koala groups making a difference 15 April
Describes some of the impactful ways local koala groups are helping their koalas survive.

Community shows up to oppose development in koala habitat in Tweed NSW 5 April
A caravan park proposal on koala habitat at Pottsville was rejected by Council but appealed by the developer. A large group of community members, including Team Koala Tweed, appeared at a Land & Environment Court conciliation, which was terminated with no agreement. Parties all wait for hearing dates.

Koala trees planted in Cape Paterson, VIC 23 April
Community-led Project Koala has made progress planting trees for native South Gippsland koalas.


Latest Koala Science:


Govendir, M., Vogelnest, L., Shapiro, A.J., Marschner, C. and Kimble, B., 2024. Pharmacokinetic profile of oral and subcutaneous administration of paracetamol in the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) and prediction of its analgesic efficacy. Plos one, 19(4), p.e0300703. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0300703

The pharmacokinetic profile of paracetamol in koalas is described when administered orally at 15 mg/kg; followed by the same dose, administered every 12 hours (hrs), repeated five times. After the initial oral administration, the median (range) maximal plasma concentration (Cmax), the time Cmax was reached (Tmax) and elimination half-life (t1/2) were 16.93 μg/mL (13.66 to 20.25 μg/mL); 4 hrs (4 to 8 hrs) and 5.54 hrs (4.66 to 7.67 hrs), respectively. When paracetamol was administered orally at 15 mg/mL every 12 hrs, the trough total plasma concentration range remained comparable to the therapeutic range in humans i.e. 4 to 20 μg/mL that is known to provide some analgesia. However, there is a smaller proportion of free drug (i.e. not bound to plasma proteins; and the active form) available in koala plasma (approximately 40% unbound) compared to human plasma (approximately 80% unbound). Consequently, even when there are similar total drug plasma concentrations in both koala and human plasma, the therapeutic efficacy may be reduced in koalas compared to humans. The initial oral dose and subsequent twice daily doses resulted in no obvious adverse effects in any koala. Haematology, plasma electrolyte and biochemical analyte values remained within their reference ranges eight hrs after the last dose but there was a significant change in alanine transaminase (ALT) levels (an increase), and in total protein (a decrease) (both p = 0.03). A dose of 15 mg/kg was also administered as a subcutaneous injection, diluted 50:50 with saline, to two koalas. As the oral formulation and the subcutaneous administration resulted in comparable absorption, the study focused on the oral profile. Based on these results there is an argument to recommend a slight increase in the oral paracetamol dose for the koala, however further investigation is required to confirm whether repeated administration of a slightly higher dose may be associated with more severe or additional significant changes in haematology, electrolytes or biochemical analytes. However, a preferable recommendation would be to administer this dosage of paracetamol in combination with another analgesic such as tramadol, as a subcutaneous injection, to improve efficacy.


Fernandez, C.M., Krockenberger, M.B., Ho, S.Y., Crowther, M.S., Mella, V.S., Jelocnik, M., Wilmott, L. and Higgins, D.P., 2024. Novel typing scheme reveals emergence and genetic diversity of Chlamydia pecorum at the local management scale across two koala populations. Veterinary Microbiology, p.110085. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vetmic.2024.110085

To overcome shortcomings in discriminating Chlamydia pecorum strains infecting the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) at the local level, we developed a novel genotyping scheme for this pathogen to inform koala management at a fine-scale subpopulation level. We applied this scheme to two geographically distinct koala populations in New South Wales, Australia: the Liverpool Plains and the Southern Highlands to South-west Sydney (SHSWS). Our method provides greater resolution than traditional multi-locus sequence typing, and can be used to monitor strain emergence, movement, and divergence across a range of fragmented habitats. Within the Liverpool Plains population, suspected recent introduction of a novel strain was confirmed by an absence of genetic diversity at the earliest sampling events and limited diversity at recent sampling events. Across the partially fragmented agricultural landscape of the Liverpool Plains, diversity within a widespread sequence type suggests that this degree of fragmentation may hinder but not prevent spread. In the SHSWS population, our results suggest movement of a strain from the south, where diverse strains exist, into a previously Chlamydia-free area in the north, indicating the risk of expansion towards an adjacent Chlamydia-negative koala population in South-west Sydney. In the south of the SHSWS where koala subpopulations appear segregated, we found evidence of divergent strain evolution. Our tool can be used to infer the risks of strain introduction across fragmented habitats in population management, particularly through practices such as wildlife corridor constructions and translocations.


Dutton-Regester, K.J., 2024. Koala admissions to a wildlife hospital in coastal New South Wales, Australia, over a nine-year period, 2014–2022. Australian Journal of Zoology, 71(6). https://doi.org/10.1071/ZO23023

The koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) population in Australia has been subjected to numerous threats leading to a significant decline in their numbers. The Port Macquarie region serves as a vital habitat for these iconic marsupials. Analysing records of 1227 koalas admitted to the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital (2014–2022), this study aimed to understand admission causes, temporal trends, and risk factors. Anthropogenic activities accounted for almost half (49.7%) of all admissions with ‘dangerous area’ and ‘motor vehicle accident’ (MVA) being common aetiologies. Young koalas were more susceptible to ‘dangerous area’, ‘MVA’, and ‘dog attack’ than other age groups. Koalas admitted for suspected chlamydia were also a significant contributing factor for admissions, and was most common in young koalas. Overall, the majority of koalas were candidates for rehabilitation or release (54.3%), but mature and aged koalas had the highest odds for mortality. This study highlights the ongoing impact of anthropogenic activities on koalas, emphasises the need for public education and reporting to mitigate risks, and underscores the importance of addressing diseases like chlamydia. These results contribute to our understanding of the factors influencing koala hospital admissions and can inform conservation and management strategies for this iconic Australian species.


Choubisa, S.L., 2024. Can Fluoride Exposure be Dangerous to the Health of Wildlife? If so, How can they be Protected from it?. https://meddocsonline.org/journal-of-veterinary-medicine-and-animal-sciences/can-fluoride-exposure-be-dangerous-to-the-health-of-wildlife-if-so-how-can-they-be-protected-from-it.pdf

Fluoride is commonly found in varying amounts in various environments, such as soil, water, and air, naturally and/or anthropogenically. Prolonged exposure to fluoride in animals through any medium becomes toxic and gradually their health deteriorates and they even develop a serious disease called fluorosis. From this disease, mainly the teeth and bones of animals get affected and deformed. In its severe condition, animals become lame and their teeth fall out at an early age. Chronic exposure to fluoride can be hazardous to the health of not only domestic animals and humans, but also critically important wildlife. In the world, most studies on fluoride toxicity have been conducted mostly in domestic animals and humans. However, some investigations have also been conducted on endemic fluorosis in some species of herbivorous wild mammals, such as cervids [red deer (Cervus elaphus L.), white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), elk (Cervus canadensis), moose (Alces alces), etc.], bovids [bison (Bison bison and B. bonasus)], wild boar (Sus scrofa), fruit bats (Pteropus giganteus, P. poliocephalus, and Rousettus aegyptiacus), rodents [voles (Microtus agrestis and Clethrionomys glareolus), wood mice (Apodemus sylvaticus), and cotton rats (Sigmodon hispidus)], small mammals [moles (Talpa europaea)], and terrestrial and arboreal marsupials [rednecked wallaby (Notamacropus rufogriseus), swamp wallaby (Wallabia bicolor), eastern grey kangaroos (Macropus giganteus), koala (Phascolarctos cinereus), common brush tail possum (Trichosurus vulpecular), and common ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus peregrinus)]. These studies indicate that wildlife or wild animals are not safe from long-term fluoride exposure. The purpose of the present editorial is to draw the attention of wildlife conservationists to the fact that chronic exposure to fluoride by any means can be threatening or dangerous to the health of wildlife, and on the other hand, to how wildlife can be protected from fluorosis.


Law, B., Gonsalves, L., Slade, C., Brassil, T. and Flanagan, C., 2024. GPS tracking reveals koalas Phascolarctos cinereus use mosaics of different forest ages after environmentally regulated timber harvesting. Austral Ecology, 49(4), p.e13518. https://doi.org/10.1111/aec.13518

An accurate picture of an animal’s home range is fundamental for quantifying habitat quality and response to disturbance. When combined with remote sensing of vegetation attributes, there is potential to assess habitat selection at high resolution. We used a high-quality GPS-collaring data set (> 12 500 fixes) from 10 koalas Phascolarctos cinereus and a canopy height model derived from LiDAR in multiple-use forests harvested for timber 5–10 years previously. Our aim was to assess how individual koalas use the forest mosaic created by timber harvesting by quantifying home ranges and habitat selection of different forest age/height classes created by past harvesting. We found that koalas maintained a stable home range over the average of 7 months of tracking. On average, there was 95% overlap for individuals among seasons, illustrating high site fidelity in the regenerating forest. Also, there were no apparent shifts during the intense drought of spring 2019. Male home ranges (64 ha) were three times the size of females (21 ha). Core areas were considerably smaller, ranging from 15 (male) to 6 ha (female). Three forest age/height classes were defined from LiDAR: (i) harvest – regeneration <14 m, (ii) harvest – retained trees ≥14 m and (iii) harvest – exclusion trees ≥14 m (zones excluded from harvesting for environmental protection). Home ranges covered the mosaic of forest classes and mixed models revealed no selection of forest class based on use versus availability. High site fidelity with no clear selection for forest age/height class (i.e. harvested and non-harvested patches) confirms that resource quality in the home range remained sufficient for breeding koalas in the post-harvest landscape. Ongoing monitoring of koalas is required to ensure that environmental protections are effective in maintaining koala populations in the face of additional disturbances from fire and climate change.


Koala Science in Brief:


Okoffo, E.D., Lu, W.C., Yenney, E. and Thomas, K.V., 2024. Limited exposure of captive Australian marsupials to plastics. Science of The Total Environment, p.172716. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2024.172716


Previous Koala News & Science here: https://www.wildkoaladay.com.au/koala-news-science/koala-news-science-march-2024/
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.