Posted on 17/05/2019 by Phillip Island Nature Parks
Koalas climb to new heights at Koala Reserve
Koalas at Phillip Island Nature Parks have more room to climb with new, custom built koala rails placed along the reserve's treetop boardwalks.
Resident koalas at the Koala Reserve are brought freshly cut branches each day to supplement their natural feeding on the eucalypts. Being such agile climbers, they delight visitors as they move from feed to feed - often choosing to travel along the human handrails on the boardwalks.
This behaviour was bringing the koalas into contact with visitors – sometimes this was too close for comfort. The focus of the Reserve is conservation and for visitors to enjoy koalas in their natural habitat, so the rangers came up with a solution for koalas and visitors.
The team designed and installed new koala rails on the existing boardwalks. The recently completed koala rails run above and parallel to the human handrails.
The horizontal rails provide the koalas with direct access to feed at more suitable koala climbing levels. The rails change in level to emulate the natural bush setting and ensure the koalas can still be admired by visitors without the two crossing paths – in one instance it goes both over and under the boardwalk to the delight of visitors. Visitors are enjoying observing the increased natural koala behaviour and getting great photos.
To date, rangers have built and installed over 100 metres of timber rails within the centre’s two koala boardwalk areas.
“The koalas move around in view of visitors and the new rails direct them along the boardwalks to feed stations that are placed strategically along their paths,” says Ashley Reed, Senior Ranger.
“The koalas have been more mobile to the delight of visitors,” says Ashley Reed, Senior Ranger.
“Handrails have been a roaring success for visitors and koalas alike.”
All of the timber used for the koala rails was sustainably sourced from the Reserve’s eucalypt plantations that provide backup food for the koalas. These feed trees need to be kept to a manageable height, so the cut timbers were put to a good use while contributing to the Nature Parks’ philosophy of sustainable use of resources.
The Koala Reserve comprises open bushland along with woodland and wetland boardwalk areas. The main Woodland Boardwalk is home to five female koalas while five female koalas and one male koala call the Koala Boardwalk home.
Koalas spend about 20 hours a day sleeping because of their low energy diet. Their bodies are perfectly adapted to breaking down the toxins in gum leaves and to adjusting their lifestyle accordingly.
Koalas are a highly threatened species on mainland Australia – largely due to habitat loss. Rangers are very keen for reports of wild koalas on Phillip Island from our community.
There are an estimated 20 koalas left in the wild on Phillip Island and rangers are keen to receive reports of any koalas and urge our community to drive carefully and watch for wildlife on our roads.
The Koala Reserve established in 1991 protects a population of koalas from dangers such as being hit by cars. The area of woodland and wetland is also significant for Phillip Island as it provides homes for wildlife including ringtail possums, echidnas, 80-90 bird species, snakes, frogs, bats and owls.
“This is a special remnant of reclaimed woodland and for all of the other animals that live there. We are conserving much more than the flagship species of koalas.”
Roland Pick – Communications Executive
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