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Lucy Wicks and Milo. Lucy Wicks and Milo.
19 February 2022 Posted by 

Bringing bears back from brink: Pearl Beach koala haven

DALLAS SHERRINGHAM
IN the trees around Pearl Beach a colony of koalas may have barely survived through bushfires, feral animal attacks and the intrusion of humans on their natural habitat.
The area was once known as the last bastion of the Coast koala population, but an extensive survey by National Parks and Wildlife in 2013 failed to find any. A bushfire ripped through the area in the 1990s.
 
Now the Pearl Beach Arboretum is attempting to find them in a new survey which includes Sydney University and local bushcraft expert and founder of Coast Environmental Alliance Jake Cassar.
 
Mr Cassar has recorded 76 registered sightings in the region since 2000. These include Picketts Valley, Watagans, Bucketty, Mangrove Mountain, Cedar Bush Creek, Yarramalong and George Downes Dve in Kulnura.
 
Amazingly, dogs specifically trained to track koala scat will also be part of the search in the Pearl Beach-Patonga area.
 
If no colony is found, the Arboretum will investigate a translocation program for koalas affected by bushfire and habitat loss.
 
In my 40 years in Coast media I have reported on spasmodic sightings of koalas and the battle to save them at Pearl Beach Arboretum at the southern end of the Peninsula.
 
Arboretum members have planted 30 species of eucalypt favored by koalas in the hope that they will be returned in the future.
 
The Pearl Beach oasis could become the home of relocated koalas and provide a safe natural location for them. 
Thrived on the Coast
 
Koalas once thrived all across the Coast with the last bears spotted in Kincumber in the 1930s.
 
The Federal Government has announced a record $50m package for koalas that will improve the health outcomes of the species, extend long-term monitoring, make funding available for local and community-led projects and restore and preserve critical habitat.
 
Federal Member for Robertson Lucy Wicks said the package would help ensure the long-term recovery and resilience of Australia’s koala populations through monitoring, training in treatment and care, plus action to protect critical habitat. 
 
“This package is a fantastic opportunity for local organisations like the Aussie Ark, the Conservation arm for the Australian Reptile Park and Walkabout Wildlife Sanctuary to apply for funding so they can establish or continue projects which aim to conserve and restore koala habitats,” Ms Wicks said.
 
“Building on our $20,000 investment under the Communities Environment Program to investigate and research the koala population in Pearl Beach, measures under this package could also assist the Pearl Beach Arboretum to relocate koalas to the Pearl Beach area.” 
 
President of Aussie Ark Tim Faulkner said he was excited to see this announcement of  funding for the iconic koala. 
 
“The funding will prove valuable in providing a hope for a species that has seen much devastation, especially in the wake of the 2019/20 bushfire disaster,” Mr Faulkner said 
 
“The investment, in particular to habitat restoration, will help expand on works already underway for koala conservation that are helping to restore lost ecosystems, control feral predators and remove noxious weeds.” 


editor

Publisher
Michael Walls
michael@accessnews.com.au
0407 783 413

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