Koala signs of the times

    Local resident Lenore Walker, Richie Benson and Mayor Lyons-Buckett 1Hawkesbury City Council has installed new signage around rural roads in Kurrajong which see a higher amount of ‘koala traffic’ to try to “protect our native animals and to encourage safer driving from tourists and locals alike”, the Mayor of Hawkesbury, Councillor Mary Lyons-Buckett said.

    “Council has placed signs in the Kurrajong Hills area as we’ve had koala sightings reported there.

    “There have also been koala sightings at Cabbage Tree Road in Grose Vale, Hermitage Road in Kurrajong and also dangerously close to Bells Line of Road near Kurrajong Public School,” she said.

    “While we don’t recommend you go out disturbing koalas, anyone who does spot a koala can record it on the Science for Wildlife website at www.scienceforwildlife.org to help scientists keep track of their movements.”

    Working with her Science For Wildlife team and the community, Executive Director Dr Kellie Leigh has created important Koala Habitat Maps based on a range of data including koala sightings, scat survey work and radio-tracking data in the South East Wollemi National Park and adjacent developed areas including Kurrajong and Grose Vale.

    “With the help of over 100 koala sightings submitted to us by the local community, we now have a good idea which habitats are most important to koalas at this site and where they are likely to be found,” Dr Leigh said.

    “A key result from our research is that there appears to be a significantly large and widespread koala population in the area, which is likely to be growing.

    This is great news when other koala populations across Australia are in decline. However, there are some highly suitable habitats for koalas in the developed area and koalas are likely to continue to move through these areas, particularly young koalas that are dispersing,” she said.

    “That means they are at risk from vehicle collisions as they cross roads, and from domestic dog attacks. If you live in this area please keep an eye out, slow down on the roads and keep your dogs locked up at night.”

    The maps are available at http://scienceforwildlife.org/iconic-koalas/koala-habitat-maps

    In keeping with the koala theme, Kurrajong is set to enjoy its first ever Koala Fest on Saturday 15 September, from 10am until 2pm at Kurrajong Village Memorial Park, 84-96 Old Bells Line of Road, Kurrajong.

    “Hawkesbury City Council is proud to support this local community event,” Councillor Lyons-Buckett said.

    Hawkesbury Environment Network (HEN) member and Koala Fest organiser Richie Benson is thrilled to have funding support from Hawkesbury City Council and Western Sydney University, and he hopes people will learn more about koala conservation through the event.

    “Our endangered koalas are facing so many threats including drought, bushfires and over development,” he said.

    “We’re hoping to get the community to support this cause, and help to protect koalas in the Hawkesbury.

    “Koala Fest will include a strong educational focus with various information booths to include information from Hawkesbury City Council, community organisations, State Government and other agencies.

    “Many people don’t realise that the Hawkesbury has a community of koalas that are trying to live and remain in our region, so our first aim is to raise community awareness.”

    It’s a koala festival for all ages, with entertainment and kids’ activities, local speakers, free native plants from Council as well as plants from the Office and Environment and Heritage, and the chance to meet some native animals.

    Koala Fest is a HEN initiative which is proudly supported by Hawkesbury City Council, Western Sydney University, and local community groups including Kurrajong Community Forum. For more information about this educational family fun day, call 4560 4525 or email koalafest@hawkesbury.nsw.gov.au

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