Inaugural Koala Fest taking place at Kurrajong

Visitors to Saturday’s inaugural Koala Fest Kurrajong will be treated to an insight into the work being done to conserve the local population of tree-huggers.

The event will be held from 10am to 2pm at Memorial Park, Kurrajong Village.

Science for Wildlife will be on site throughout the event.

This joey is getting too big to hide in mum’s arms. They are part of the breeding population in Kanangra-Boyd National Park. Picture: Jordan McKay

This joey is getting too big to hide in mum’s arms. They are part of the breeding population in Kanangra-Boyd National Park. Picture: Jordan McKay

The group has been working with communities across the Hawkesbury and Blue Mountains regions to find and map our koala populations.

It uses ground-breaking techniques like wildlife detection dogs and high-tech radio ear-tag trackers to find elusive but critically important koalas.

“As part of Koala Fest, we’re bringing along one of our champion furry trackers to demonstrate the work that we do,” said Science for Wildilfe’s executive director and lead research scientist, Dr Kellie Leigh.

“Is is a fun way to see science in action and find out about how you can help to find and keep safe these precious animals.

Smudge is in training to become a professional koala scat sniffer and will be giving demonstrations at Koala Fest. Picture: Kellie Leigh

Smudge is in training to become a professional koala scat sniffer and will be giving demonstrations at Koala Fest. Picture: Kellie Leigh

“I’m sure the who family will want to join in.”

Science for Wildlife’s new koala spotter app will also be launched at the Koala Fest.

It will become an important tool to encourage more “citizen scientists” to help the koala cause.

Dr Leigh said the group started research around Kurrajong and Grose Vale where koalas face threats from vehicles and domestic dogs, as well as South East Wollemi National Park as far north as Mellong.

Work will expand into other areas and it has been determined that the wider Blue Mountains region is critically important for koalas.

“We have made some new and exciting discoveries,” Dr Leigh said.

“We found a breeding colony of koalas, including many young joeys, living at over 1000 metres on the western side of the mountains.

“Normally, the preferred koala habitat is below 800 metres. The number of habitats we are finding koalas using in this region is a game-changer in our understanding of Australia-wide.”

Koalas are a threatened species, vulnerable to extinction across most of their range in Australia.

Once a thriving 3-4 million community, koalas have declined to roughly 10 per cent of that number. Saving each and every koala population is vital to the species’ survival, says Dr Leigh.

Last weekend, Dr Leigh was on hand at a Threatened Special Day event at the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre in Katoomba.

“We invite anyone in our local community to help by volunteering to be part of our survey work or becoming a registered koala spotter,” she said.

“Information gathered is analysed and shared with land managers, rural fire services and community groups to strengthen efforts to protect koalas and restore koala habitats.”