Sandy Point Koalas

Sandy Point has a well-established population of koalas that live within the township as well as in the bush surrounding it.  You may see koalas anywhere in Sandy Point, mainly in their preferred food source, manna gums.  Two examples of this tree are growing at the end of the road to Shallow Inlet, just where the sealed road changes into gravel.  Often a koala can be seen in one of these trees.

Koalas tend to be most active and forage for food at night. During the daytime they tend to sleep high up in a tree. You may hear the males vocalising, especially at night when they are on the move.

Recently there has also been a problem with mange, which has resulted in 15 koalas having to be euthanised in the last 18 months.  Mange is an infestation of the mange mite which burrows under the skin of an animal depositing its eggs and causing intense discomfort.  If left untreated it will lead to a slow and agonising death for the animal.

If you see a koala acting strangely, wandering around in daylight hours, or looking at all mangy, please let The Southern Ash Wildlife Shelter know by ringing 0429 653 583. They will arrange for the animal to be picked up by a wildlife carer and treatment to be started immediately. Apparently time really counts for the successful treatment of this disease.

Dogs running free around Sandy Point have also been the cause of many koala deaths so please keep your dogs on a leash and do not let them out at night unsupervised. That way, we can all continue to enjoy the company of our resident koala population.

Koalas Working Group

Update: June 2017

The committee put in a grant application to the Biodiversity and On-Ground Action – Community and Volunteer Action Grants in May, for protecting koalas at Sandy Point. The grants are for up to $50,000 over three years and support projects that protect, improve and expand habitats and address threats for native animals and plants. If successful, we’ll be able to use the money for running our community koala count later in the year, doing some mapping of koala habitat and food sources, understanding the threats (foxes, feral cats, disease), surveys on koala population health and genetics, community awareness, and planting corridors for koalas. We should hear any day now if we’ve been successful – fingers crossed!

Hannah Buys from Federation Uni, our volunteer student who has been helping with preparations for the koala count, has just completed her work, which is in two parts: one is a short review of koala count methods (leading, we understand, to a recommendation of a direct count as the favoured method for use at Sandy Point). This document also describes Hannah's approach to mapping the eucalypt trees in the Sandy Point township. The second part is designed to be a manual for use by volunteer koala counters. It provides information which will be useful for participants attending a koala count day. Many thanks to Hannah for her hard work throughout this project – it will be invaluable to the community.

The Sandy Point community are wonderful supporters of our koala population, and people really want to help, and it’s exciting times with the support from Fed Uni and the potential for some State Government grant funding. Our next step is to take Hannah’s work and organise a community koala count, most likely on Sunday 24 September. If you have skills or interest in helping to organise the koala count, or with any part of the koala project – please get in touch – we’d love to hear from you! It’ll be a really fun day for young and old bringing together volunteers to survey the number of koalas throughout the town and in the reserve.

Caitlin Pilkington