Helping in the koala efforts

Jim, Shane and Bronte collect browse for Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary koalas.

The plight of koalas affected in the 2019-20 bushfires on Kangaroo Island has drawn international attention and many groups and volunteers have come to the Island to help rescue stranded or injured koalas.

Previous estimates suggested the Island was host to about 50,000 koalas (which were introduced to the Island a century ago) and perhaps half of them had made their home in bluegum plantations.

After the fires, which destroyed about 15,000 hectares of bluegums on KIPT land and on private land, as well as tens of thousands of hectares on native vegetation, the koala population has been estimated at 5000 to 10,000.

KIPT has provided access to our plantations for rescuers from the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Network, Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park, Humane Society International, Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary and others. We have permitted access to unburnt compartments in the Kellendale and Cronin plantations for rescuers to release koalas.

KIPT has also encouraged the collection of food for the rescued koalas that are being nursed at the KI Wildlife Park, including from the epicormic growth at the two plantations that suffered a fire in December, 2018.

Jim Geddes from the Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary said access to the plantations for food had been a “godsend” as he and others begin the process of rebuilding the sanctuary, which was destroyed in the fires. “Thank you very much for the generosity and flexibility over the last 2 months. It has been a life saver for us,” he said.