An informative monthly newsletter about successes & important announcements in koala conservation, and the latest scientific publications about koalas.
January 2023
Subscribe here: https://mailchi.mp/808fc4af1ee0/koala-news-science

Support growing for Great Koala NP in NSW 19 January
NSW Labor have once-again promised to support the Great Koala National Park proposal in northern NSW, if they win government. Labor won’t commit to the size of the Park, and the proposal would be subject to consultation, and an economic assessment of the park’s impact on jobs & communities.

NSW Liberal Party have dismissed the proposal outright.

Climate 200 “Teal” candidates are hoping to pressure the government into supporting the National Park, accusing them of undermining koalas.

2 huge coal projects stopped, Qld 19 January
Glencore’s Valeria Project and Malabar Coal’s Spur Hill have been stopped thanks to action by Environment Council of Central Queensland and Environmental Justice Australia as part of the Living Wonders legal intervention, questioning the impacts of 18 major coal and gas proposals.

IFAW Step Up to Save Koalas challenge
The challenge aims to raise awareness about the plight of endangered NSW koalas, 6,400 of which were lost during the catastrophic Black Summer bushfires of 2019/2020. For the month of February, everyone who has joined the challenge will do 6,400 steps per day to raise money to protect and care for koalas.

Global Climate Strike 3 March, 2023
The next climate strike by Fridays For Future/School Strike for Climate will be held worldwide on 3 March 2023.

3rd National Koala Conference 26-28 May NSW 2023
Registration is now open. Register: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/3rd-national-koala-conference-tickets-522191628217?aff=Email 

Watch a drone find a Koala 6 January
University of Sunshine Coast drone finds a population of 32 koalas in Ngunya Jargoon IPA near Wardell NSW

Climate Disaster Effects on Mental health study released 19 January
A study conducted by Climate Council supported by Beyond Blue shows 80% of Australians experienced a climate disaster since 2019 and 50% said it affected their mental health.

Koala survives crossing busy highway with human help, Qld 12 January
The video of Will Thornton stopping traffic on the Gold Coast Highway to let a koala cross made big news. Queensland Conservation Council said that the video was a reminder of how koala habitat was shrinking due to development and clearing.

Survey of community attitudes to koalas in Central Qld, 4 January
CQUniversity are running a survey to study the attitudes of Queenslanders towards koalas. The survey is open to residents of Mackay, Gladstone, Rockhampton, Central Highlands, Emerald, Longreach and across North Burnett, the Bowen Basin Coalfields and Birdsville and to the Queensland border. Survey here: https://cqu.syd1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_ebnel6LCfw1kqDI


Current petitions to sign:

Sydney, NSW: https://www.change.org/p/stop-the-destruction-of-fred-caterson-reserve-castle-hill

NSW: https://www.suehigginson.org/logging

NSW: https://www.nature.org.au/koalas_need_trees_petition

Sydney, NSW: https://www.davidshoebridge.org.au/stop_randwick_barracks

Adelaide, SA: https://www.change.org/p/prevent-more-koala-deaths-with-barriers-on-the-expressway?

Australia-wide: https://envirojustice.org.au/blog/onlineaction/environment-laws-petition-ads/

NSW: https://www.koalapark.org.au/petition

QLD: https://www.change.org/p/tell-the-australian-environment-minister-queensland-government-to-save-moreton-bay-stop-toondah-harbour-development




Woinarski, J.C., Cripps, J., Durkin, L., Law, B., Legge, S.M., Macak, P.V., Nelson, J. and Rumpff, L., 2023. Impacts of the 2019–20 wildfires on native mammals. Australia’s Megafires: Biodiversity Impacts and Lessons from 2019-2020.


Chen, J., Lv, W., Zhang, X., Zhang, T., Dong, J., Wang, Z., Liu, T., Zhang, P., Pyne, M., Dong, G. and Guo, S., 2023. Animal Age Affects the Gut Microbiota and Immune System in Captive Koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus). Microbiology Spectrum, pp.e04101-22. https://doi.org/10.1128/spectrum.04101-22

Gut microbiota is one of the major elements in the control of host health. However, the composition of gut microbiota in koalas has rarely been investigated. Here, we performed 16S rRNA gene sequencing to determine the individual and environmental determinants of gut microbiota diversity and function in 35 fecal samples collected from captive koalas. Meanwhile, blood immune-related cytokine levels were examined by quantitative reverse transcription-PCR to initially explore the relationship between the gut microbiota and the immune system in koalas. The relative abundance of many bacteria, such as Lonepinella koalarum, varies at different ages in koalas and decreases with age. Conversely, Ruminococcus flavefaciens increases with age. Moreover, bacterial pathways involved in lipid metabolism, the biosynthesis of other secondary metabolites, and infectious disease show a significant correlation with age. Age affects the relationship between the microbiota and the host immune system. Among them, the gut microbiota of subadult and aged koalas was closely correlated with CD8β and CD4, whereas adult koalas were correlated with CLEC4E. We also found that sex, reproductive status, and living environment have little impact on the koala gut microbiota and immune system. These results shed suggest age is a key factor affecting gut microbiota and immunity in captive koalas and thus provide new insight into its role in host development and the host immune system.
IMPORTANCE Although we have a preliminary understanding of the gut microbiota of koalas, we lack insight into which factors potentially impact captive koalas. This study creates the largest koala gut microbiota data set in China to date and describes several factors that may affect gut microbiota and the immune system in captive koalas, highlighting that age may be a key factor affecting captive koalas. Moreover, this study is the first to characterize the correlation between gut microbiota and cytokines in koalas. Better treatment strategies for infectious disorders may be possible if we can better understand the interactions between the immune system and the microbiota.


Leigh, K.A., Hofweber, L.N., Sloggett, B.K., Inman, V., Pettit, L., Sriram, A. and Haering, R.J., 2023. Assessing outcomes for an arboreal folivore after rehabilitation; implications for management.

Wildlife rehabilitation is a critical part of animal welfare that contributes to species conservation. Despite the resources that go into rehabilitation, how animals fare after release from care is unknown. This is particularly true for cryptic arboreal species where specialist diets in care and low detectability in the wild present challenges for both care and post-release monitoring. We evaluated post-release outcomes for koalas and assessed if koalas were fed appropriately while in care. We monitored 36 koalas that had experienced one of three categories of medical intervention (none, minor, major) during rehabilitation. We examined the drivers of i) koala survival and ii) movements postrelease, and iii) evaluated variation between the species of browse fed in care versus browse selected by koalas in-situ. Overall, the post release survival rate of koalas was 58.5%, with only koalas that received medical intervention experiencing mortality. A critical threshold for mortality occurred at two weeks post-release and mortality was related to the measurable indicators of low body condition and poor climbing ability at time of release. In the month following their release, animals translocated furthest from their capture point moved the furthest. There was poor overlap between the tree species that koalas were fed in care and those they utilized post-release. We provide recommendations to address critical gaps in rehabilitation practices, as well as priorities for monitoring animals post-release to improve outcomes for arboreal folivores.


Koala Science in brief:


Paixao, I.C., Mizutani, N., Matsuda, M., Andriani, R.T., Kawai, T., Nakagawa, A., Okochi, Y. and Okamura, Y., 2023. Role of K364 next to the active site cysteine in voltage-dependent phosphatase activity of Ci-VSP. Biophysical Journal.


Guo, Y., Alshahni, M.M., Satoh, K., Tamura, T., Alshahni, R.Z. and Makimura, K., 2023. Begerowomycesaurantius sp. nov., a novel yeast isolated from koalas’ habitat in a Japanese zoological park. Journal of Veterinary Medical Science, pp.22-0374.




Maitz, N.M., Taylor, M.F., Ward, M.S. and Possingham, H.P., 2022. Assessing the impact of referred actions on protected matters under Australia’s national environmental legislation. Conservation Science and Practice, p.e12860.

Australia’s national environmental legislation, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) has been criticized for failing to mitigate the national extinction crisis. Under the EPBC Act, projects anticipated to have a significant impact on protected matters must be referred to the Australian Government for assessment. Actions deemed unlikely to have a significant impact are granted permission to proceed, while actions expected to have a significant impact must undergo further assessment. We spatially analyzed potential habitat loss deemed either significant or non-significant in Queensland and New South Wales for threatened species, migratory species, and threatened ecological communities between 2000 and 2015. Impact scores were developed to quantify and compare the value of woody vegetation cleared under each referral determination. We found no statistically significant difference between median impact scores for vegetation removed under significant and non-significant determinations. Over half (63%) of all scored losses occurred under actions deemed non-significant, with certain species disproportionately impacted. The tiger quoll (Dasyurus maculatus maculatus) and grey-headed flying-fox (Pteropus poliocephalus) lost 82% and 72% of their total referred potential habitat under non-significant actions, respectively. Our results indicate that the application of the EPBC Act is failing to adequately conserve the protected matters of this investigation.


Previous Koala News & Science here: https://www.wildkoaladay.com.au/koala-news-science/december-2022/
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.