Koalas in the Kempsey Shire

Koalas in a tree

Our Shire includes important areas of koala habitat and with evidence suggesting that koala numbers in NSW have rapidly declined since European settlement, it is our responsibility to ensure that we reduce threats to this important species.

Threats associated with the decline of koala populations include cars, dogs and the removal of native vegetation.

The NSW State Recovery Plan for the Koala indicates that significant numbers of koala exist within the Kempsey Shire. The majority of koala habitat within the Shire is situated upon private land and therefore management practices of landowners play an important role in maintaining and increasing koala populations in the area.

What you can do to help protect the koala populations in the Kempsey Shire

People living near koala habitats in the Kempsey Shire can assist in protecting koala populations from further deterioration and increase koala numbers in the Shire.

If possible it is suggested that you:

  • Retain koala habitat on your land.
  • Don’t allow your dog to roam freely, especially at night and always walk your dog on a lead. Report stray or roaming dogs to Councils Ranger.
  • Drive slowly and carefully at night. During the breeding season (August to February) koalas are particularly vulnerable, spending more time on the ground finding a mate.
  • If you require fencing on your property and yard, install koala friendly fences or make your existing fence koala friendly. Information on koala friendly fences can be found at www.savethekoala.com 
  • Report any sick and injured koalas immediately to WIRES, FAUNA or the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital.
  • Apply low intensity, mosaic pattern fuel reduction burns adjacent to koala habitat.
  • Plant preferred koala food trees on your block and develop habitat corridors between populations.

Preferred koala tree species

The following trees have been identified in Kempsey Shire Council’s, Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management for the Eastern Portion of the LGA, April 2011, as preferred koala food trees.

Primary food tree species
Tallowwood Eucalyptus microcorys
Forest Red Gum Eucalyptus tereticornis
Swamp Mahogany Eucalyptus robusta
Secondary/supplementary food tree species
Grey Gum Eucalyptus propinqua
White Stringybark Eucalyptus globoidea
Stringybark Eucalyptus tindaliae

Planting koala food trees

Koala in a tree

If you propose to plant koala food trees on your property, plants grown from locally grown seed stock should be used. These trees are likely to fare better in local conditions and are likely to produce a better quality food source for the local Koala population. A list of local nurseries that grow native plants from locally sourced seed stock can be found at www.macleaylandcare.org.au 

Where to plant koala food trees

  • Near existing koala habitat to increase food resources
  • Near watercourses, ie creeks, rivers, dams, etc
  • Between isolated remnants of Koala habitat to provide connection between the two areas
  • Close to fence lines

Where not to plant koala food trees:

  • Close to your house
  • Beside busy roads
  • In a fenced in area with a swimming pool or dog yard
  • Close to powerlines, underground pipe work or services

Threats to koalas in the Kempsey Shire

Local threats to koalas in our Shire include:

  • Clearing of koala food trees and habitat
    Clearing of koala habitat displaces the koala by removing the shelter and food supply.
  • Fragmentation of habitat
    Construction of barriers such as roads and subdivisions can divide areas of habitat and restrict movement.
  • Dog attack
    Attacks from dogs are a major cause of mortality and injury to koalas each year.
  • Road kills
    Many koalas are killed or injured each year from being hit by vehicles on roads between dusk and dawn.
  • Wild fires and high frequency burn offs
    Uncontrolled wild fires can cause death or injury of koalas as well as destroying food supply. An increased number of fires within koala habitat can cause injury to the koala and modify the habitat with negative consequences.
  • Swimming pools
    Koalas can swim, however the slippery sides of most swimming pools result in koalas becoming trapped and perishing from fatigue.
  • Disease
    Chlamydia is a common disease in koalas. The koala is more susceptible to the disease when under stress from any of the above scenarios.

Koala facts

  • Koalas are inactive for most of the day, feeding and moving mostly at night.
  • Koalas spend most of their time in trees, but will travel some distances on open ground to move between trees.
  • Home range varies and can be less than 2 ha to greater than 100ha in size, depending on the quality of habitat.

What sound does a koala make?

During the breeding season (in spring and early summer) male koalas can make deep grunting, loud bellow sounds which can also accompany snore like grunts, snorts and wails. The male koala uses this bellow to signify its social and physical position and also to allow other koalas to accurately locate the position of the caller.

Koala scats

Koala scats in palm of hand
Koala scats with a10 cent coin for size comparison

The hard, firmly packed scats of the Koala may vary in colour and contain fairly coarse fragments of leaf cuticles, chiefly of eucalypt species. Fresh Koala scats may smell of eucalyptus oil, but when dry have little odour (Triggs 1996).

More information