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

Good results in Toowoomba Koala Count QLD 2 February
The 3rd annual volunteer koala count, run by Save Mt Lofty, recorded 215 koalas across the region in November 2023. Learn more about the project here: https://www.toowoombakoalaproject.org/

NSW Environment Awards on 27 March
Nature Conservation Council are running an NSW Environment Awards Night on 27 March. Tickets, in person and virtual are available.

Koala habitat protection can’t wait in NSW 29 February
Land-clearing rates tripled across NSW in 2018 to 2021 and the NCC’s Jacqui Mumford says its past time for a plan to protect what remains.

Plibersek urged to refuse Vulcan South Mine, central QLD 1 February
Vitrinite’s Vulcan South Coal Mine in the Bowen Basin in central Queensland would be licensed to destroy 770 hectares of koala habitat and over 1000 ha of Squatter Pigeon habitat.

Moreton Bay Koala volunteers wanted QLD
Moreton Bay Koala Rescue are offering training to volunteer ambulance drivers, tree planters and event & fundraising volunteers. Message the fb page to express interest.

Petition to save Pine Creek from logging reaches 15,000 signatures NSW
The petition to urgently save compartments 15 to 18 from logging proposed for June 2024. These compartments contain koala populations and listed koala hubs.

Big tree planting targets require support, Northern Rivers NSW
Bangalow Koalas are seeking donations to help them plant 80,000 koala trees & shrubs in 2024.

Campbelltown Koalas need your signature
IFAW are compiling this petition to Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek.

NEFA recommendations to feedback on NSW Koala Strategy 1 March
North East Forest Alliance have made some recommendations for anyone responding to the NSW Koala Strategy request for community feedback.

Register property for Koala habitat works NSW
Greater Sydney Landcare are seeking landowners in Appin/Wilton and Campbelltown areas willing to assist in revegetation or habitat improvement.

Overview of koala chlamydia by Peter Timms 2 February
University of Sunshine Coast’s Prof Peter Timms summarises chlamydia, vaccines and treatments in this easy to read article.

How dogs are helping wildlife across the world 6 February
Koala-sniffer dog Bear joins canine heroes in Africa, the Americas and Europe and in this article.

Another 3,500 koala trees for Gympie QLD 21 February
Koala Action Gympie Region have received a grant that will fund the planting of 3,500 koala trees in the region.

Raffle for Koala Habitat VIC
After the last raffle sold out, and more prizes were donated by supporters, Koala Clancy Foundation are hosting another fundraiser for koala tree planting.

Watch the Logan Koala Forum
A video of the recent koala forum organised by Griffith University is available to watch online.

Landowners sought for revegetation for koalas Maude, Russells Bridge, Teesdale VIC 11 February
Koala Clancy Foundation are seeking properties with river and creek frontage for revegetation projects in the next few years.




2 & 3 March, Koala Tours, Raymond Island VIC hosted by Koalas of Raymond Island

3 March, Tree Planting, Montville, southern QLD hosted by Friends of the Koala

3 March, River Clean-Up, Cobram northern VIC hosted by Dutch Thunder Wildlife Rescue

9 March, Bush Dance, Gleniffer, northern NSW hosted by Save Tuckers Nob

17 March, Weeding & Wildlife Walk, You Yangs VIC hosted by Koala Clancy Foundation

23 March, Koala Citizen Science Training Day, Heathcote NSW hosted by Sydney Basin Koala Network

23 March, Tree Planting, Coombabah hosted by Naturally GC Landcare



2 March, Goomboorian Memorial Hall QLD, Koala forum with USC Detection Dogs for Conservation, Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, Koala Action Gympie, Noosa Landcare, hosted by Burnett Mary Region Group

7 March, Teesdale Community Hall, VIC Janine Duffy Koala Clancy Foundation hosted by Friends of Inverleigh Nature Conservation Reserve.

8 March, Rylstone Olive Press Monivae NSW “Curious about Koalas” Dr Kellie Leigh Science For Wildlife hosted by Watershed Landcare.

14 March, QLD, Trainee Volunteer Koala Rescuer online training hosted by Noosa, Gympie & Sunshine Coast Koala Rescue Team – Wildcare Australia


Latest Koala Science


Johnson, D.C. and Shapcott, A., 2024. Koala forest habitat recovery varies with fire severity. Forest Ecology and Management, 556, p.121704.

The koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) is at risk of extinction in the wild as a result of ongoing habitat loss due to clearing, and extreme weather events including fire. In 2022 the Australian government upgraded the conservation listing of the koala from Vulnerable to Endangered. In late 2019 and in 2020 Australia experienced widespread severe wildfires and many threatened species were adversely affected. A 230 hectare forested property with known koala habitat near Crows Nest, Queensland, Australia, was surveyed three months after a wildfire in November 2019, to assess impact, and then annually for three years to assess recovery. The most resilient tree species and forest types were identified to assess koala habitat robustness. Our fire severity scale classified impacts to forest types and tree species using trunk scorch height, crown scorching, crown loss, and tree mortality. Subsequent surveys classified recovery by assessing epicormic shooting, coppicing, seedlings, sapling regrowth, and tree survival. Fire promoted epicormic shooting along tree stems, but at extreme fire severity, coppicing from the base was the dominant response. Moderate and high fire severity was tolerated by most preferred koala tree species, but tree mortality increased significantly with extreme fire severity. The most fire-resilient of these koala habitat tree species was Eucalyptus eugenioides, which displayed significant epicormic shooting at moderately high, and high fire severities, and significant coppicing at high fire severities. The dominant forest type in the study area is characterised by this tree species, and so may be an important factor if selecting conservation areas in this region for koalas and other arboreal mammals.


Hough, I., O’Handley, R. and Speight, N., 2024. Cryptosporidium‐associated enteritis in captive koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus). Australian Veterinary Journal.

Cryptosporidium spp. sporadically infect a range of Australian native mammals including koalas, red kangaroos, eastern grey kangaroos, bilbies and brush tailed possums and can range from asymptomatic to fatal infections. Traditionally considered a disease of the young or immuno-compromised, and resulting in profuse diarrhoea in other species, here we report an atypical clinical syndrome associated with Cryptosporidium in a captive population of koalas. All affected animals were in-contact adults, and demonstrated anorexia, dehydration and abdominal pain in the absence of diarrhoea. Following euthanasia on welfare grounds, Cryptosporidium infection was confirmed postmortem in three of four symptomatic animals via faecal floatation and/or intestinal histopathology, with enteritis also diagnosed in the fourth koala. Further screening of the captive colony found the outbreak had been contained. Based on sequencing the cause of the infection was C. fayeri, but the source was undetermined. In conclusion, Cryptosporidium should be considered as a possible cause of generalised illness in koalas.


McDougall, F.K., Speight, N., Funnell, O., Boardman, W.S. and Power, M.L., 2024. Dynamics of Antimicrobial Resistance Carriage in Koalas (Phascolarctos Cinereus) and Pteropid Bats (Pteropus Poliocephalus) Before, During and After Wildfires. Microbial Ecology, 87(1), pp.1-15.

In the 2019–2020 summer, wildfires decimated the Australian bush environment and impacted wildlife species, including koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) and grey headed flying fox pups (Pteropid bats, Pteropus poliocephalus). Consequently, hundreds of koalas and thousands of bat pups entered wildlife hospitals with fire-related injuries/illness, where some individuals received antimicrobial therapy. This study investigated the dynamics of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in pre-fire, fire-affected and post-fire koalas and Pteropid bat pups. PCR and DNA sequencing were used to screen DNA samples extracted from faeces (koalas and bats) and cloacal swabs (koalas) for class 1 integrons, a genetic determinant of AMR, and to identify integron-associated antibiotic resistance genes. Class 1 integrons were detected in 25.5% of koalas (68 of 267) and 59.4% of bats (92 of 155). Integrons contained genes conferring resistance to aminoglycosides, trimethoprim and beta-lactams. Samples were also screened for blaTEM (beta-lactam) resistance genes, which were detected in 2.6% of koalas (7 of 267) and 25.2% of bats (39 of 155). Integron occurrence was significantly higher in fire-affected koalas in-care compared to wild pre-fire koalas (P < 0.0001). Integron and blaTEM occurrence were not significantly different in fire-affected bats compared to pre-fire bats (P > 0.05), however, their occurrence was significantly higher in fire-affected bats in-care compared to wild fire-affected bats (P < 0.0001 and P = 0.0488 respectively). The observed shifts of AMR dynamics in wildfire-impacted species flags the need for judicious antibiotic use when treating fire-affected wildlife to minimise unwanted selective pressure and negative treatment outcomes associated with carriage of resistance genes and antibiotic resistant bacteria.


Lane, M., Youngentob, K., Clark, R. and Marsh, K., The nutritional quality of post-fire eucalypt regrowth and its consumption by koalas in the New South Wales Southern Tablelands. Australian Journal of Zoology.

Most forests and woodlands of south-eastern Australia are fire prone. These landscapes are typically dominated by tree species within the Eucalyptus genus, and many of these are proficient epicormic resprouters after fire. Several marsupial folivores rely on Eucalyptus foliage, including the koala. Little is known about the nutritional composition of epicormic leaves and whether folivores can utilise them. Following the 2019-20 megafires, we offered koalas epicormic leaves from eight eucalypt species that occur in the New South Wales Southern Tablelands and measured concentrations of foliar chemical constituents known to influence koala feeding (total and available nitrogen, formylated phloroglucinol compounds (FPCs), and unsubstituted B-ring flavanones (UBFs)). Captive koalas ate epicormic leaves from the four eucalypt species belonging to the symphyomyrtle subgenus but ate relatively little from the monocalypt species. Available nitrogen was significantly higher in symphyomyrtle epicormic regrowth compared to monocalypts and differed between species. Concentrations of FPCs and UBFs also differed between eucalypt species. Our results suggest that post-fire epicormic regrowth from symphyomyrtle species may be more readily browsed than monocalypts by koalas in the NSW Southern Tablelands. Therefore, some burnt areas are likely to be better quality habitat for koalas than others.


Koala Science In Brief


Mottaghinia, S., Stenzel, S., Tsangaras, K., Nikolaidis, N., Laue, M., Müller, K., Hölscher, H., Löber, U., McEwen, G.K., Donnellan, S.C. and Rowe, K.C., 2024. A recent gibbon ape leukemia virus germline integration in a rodent from New Guinea. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 121(6), p.e2220392121.


Feature Paper


Mackey, B., Lindenmayer, D., Norman, P., Taylor, C. and Gould, S., 2021. Are fire refugia less predictable due to climate change?. Environmental Research Letters, 16(11), p.114028.

Fire refugia—unburnt habitat within a wildfire’s perimeter—play a key role in wildlife persistence and recovery. While studies have shown that the location of refugia is influenced by local topographic factors, growing evidence points to extreme fire weather becoming the dominant factor driving high-severity wildfires that result in the location of fire refugia being less predictable. Between September 2019 and February 2020, a series of mega-fires in eastern Australia burned largely in broadleaf forest. We assessed burned and unburned areas of forest in eastern Australia using Sentinel-2 satellite data, aggregated monthly over the fire season to calculate a fire severity layer at a 20 m pixel resolution. We found that fires burned 5.7 × 106 ha−1 of forest and woodland. The total percentage area of unburned forest within the wildfire footprint was approximately 10%. The majority (94%) of the unburnt forest and woodland patches within the fire perimeter occurred as patches <1 ha (n = 842 622 and 111 707 ha) with far fewer large unburnt patches (>100 ha) (n = 575 and 286 080 ha). Boosted regression tree analyses of the relationships between fire severity and potential explanatory variables revealed that 63%–78% of the variable importance in the models were climatic and weather-related factors. Fire weather index was the single most important variable for analyses, accounting for 40%–52% of modelled results. Our results reinforce mounting evidence that a shift is underway in the balance between deterministic and contingent factors in the occurrence of fire refugia with local topographic controls being increasingly overridden by severe fire weather conditions, and declining topographic effects as fire severity increases. Further studies are needed over a longer time frame, inclusive of prior forest management impacts, to confirm that the ability to predict fire refugia is permanently declining.

Previous Koala News & Science here: https://www.wildkoaladay.com.au/blog/ 
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.