Protecting koala populations through habitat regeneration - private landowners have the power. Every tree makes a difference.

2017 - third year observation and photography

I again added a slight change to my data collection as I felt that it was really time to pin point where the koalas were on the property. In fact, each new piece of data, while valuable beyond doubt, increases the amount of time and effort I spend each day. As I looked over 2 complete years of data however, the value of documenting this (which I already knew to a large degree in my head) had become crystal clear.

I divided the property into 15 zones which are numbered and that is recorded in the database. However, I have also named many areas around those zones according to the habits of the regular koalas that were here for this year. There are many overlaps, and each koala named does not only use that one spot, but it gives an idea of the distribution of them across the property. I will talk a little more to their movement on the property below when I discuss each koala.

The final figures for 2017 saw koalas being found on the property a total of 357 days.
This meant there were koalas spotted 5 more days of the year than previously.
There were 5 days that the property was checked and no koalas found, and 3 days when the property was not checked.
This is mind blowing when you consider that only 2 years previously there were no koalas seen on 137 days – ponder that a moment.
Over those days there were a total of 1048 adult sightings and 144 back young. This is more than double the adult sightings of the previous year,
and there were zero back young seen in 2016 so this increase is huge.
These days of sightings were the result of activity on the property by 21 individual adult koalas.

MAXINE

was seen on the property a whopping 233 days of the year.
Not only has the ‘Divine Miss M’ stayed and become part of the colony,
but she has produced a nearly carbon copy female joey named Stella,
fathered by Legion
During the year Maxine has used most parts of the property as her
needs changed when nursing Stella.

But her favourite area has always been in the cool sheltered bloodwood area, which morphs into my favourite patch of self sown red gums.

She is incredibly photogenic, and has quickly become an
important influence on the genetics of the colony here.

Maxine in 2017
Stevie comparison of her growth in 2017

STEVIE

has matured into the most beautiful big koala during this year.

When she arrived she was a sub-adult, weighing around 3kg and it was the end of 2016 and mid breeding season.

She was not mated and so got to spend her teenage year feeding well on the many trees available at Koala Gardens and nearby as she was not on the property every day. But the growth in her in the second half of 2017 was amazing to see as she matured out. The photo here shows this clearly.

She was mated by Bullet mid October, and so the waiting game to see the next generation joey emerge begins.

She was found on the property a total of 177 days, so nearly a full half of the year. Her ears continue to delight everyone as they are surely the biggest koala ears in the entire world.

RACEE

was the third young female that arrived late 2016. It is most likely that she mated with Zorro to produce her female joey Karla this year.

This was her first joey ever.

Racee only ever uses zone 9, the top western zone of the property, so most of her home range is not at Koala Gardens.

She was found on the property a total of 146 days, so around 40% of the year. She was often seen hiding out in dense shrubs on the western boundary and I suspect I missed her a lot of days.

She is a good dark colour with a lot of nose pigmentation.

Racee in 2017
Enigma in 2017

ENIGMA

is the son of Mist.
At the time of mating it appeared that the father of her joey would be Zorro, but as Enigma grew on as an independant sub-adult it is more likely he was sired by Jordan.
This guesstimate is based on his dark colouring.

Mist left the property with Enigma on her back at the end of May, and she reappared mid September and deposited him in the area on the map called Enigma’s playground.

From mid September to the end of the year, he was seen here 92 days – I presume any day I did not find him in this time was because I missed him, as he stayed in zone 9, 10 and 11.

Enigma is the first joey conceived, born and emerged from the pouch, that has remained on the property.

He received his name as it took nearly a week of daily sighting and photographing him to be sure if he was male or female.

LEGION

was seen on the property a total of 88 days.

Legion may be developing a pattern of spending time here during only some months of the year. This is the kind of data these daily recordings will reveal over a range of years.

Legion mated with Maxine and the resulting female joey was Stella. Maxine was young at the time of mating, and I suspect that older males like Jordan and Zorro may have considered her too young and left her alone.

Legion was really only a teenager himself, and I think a mature and experienced female would have told him to back off.

It is thought that Legion is a son of, or closely related to Jordan because of his facial shape and colouring.

Legion in 2017
Bullet in 2017

BULLET

arrived at Koala Gardens early August 2017.

He appeared to be a young adult, maybe 2 – 3 years old. This was determined by a number of observations – his size, his head shape, his scent gland and his behaviour.

He was found here 68 days during this time and it appeared that he was coming and going a lot, possibly looking for somewhere to settle in and call home.

Within a short time another young adult, Takeshi, arrived and over the next month there were several altercations between these 2 koalas, so a desire for settling on a home range became obvious.

The main area these 2 fellas were inhabiting was the home range area of Zorro at the time. See Zorro for more on him.

Bullet often seemed to be the loser when watching altercations, however, in fact he stayed and mated Stevie, and Takeshi moved on.

MIST

was only seen on the property 68 days during this year.

It is suspected that one reason she was here less was that there were 3 young females, 2 of whom had joeys in pouch. Territorial behaviour in females does occur, but it is very different to the behaviour of males. If there is enough food, older females will often make room for younger females.

Another reason is likely that she brought Enigma back and left him here to become independent and so she stayed away more than usual to allow him to develop the skills he needed to without her around.

Mist is a very important matriarch of the colony and has produced at least 5 offspring to date.

She is going to be the main character in a childrens book due for release in 2018.

Mist in 2017
Jordan in 2017

JORDAN

is the alpha male of the colony.

This does not mean he is the only male, but he is the top fella on the pile and I think he moves over a large area.

He was seen on the property only 50 times.

Now there is something interesting to note about Jordan when considering these counts. He moves around more quickly than any of the other regular colony members. There have been many times when I have seen once in the day but he is gone hours later. This means it is very possible that he is on the property more often than I am able to verify, but moving more.

He will use any part of the property at all, but some patterns of when he is around are possibly emerging from the data. It would be so interesting to know how far he travels within his home range.

ZORRO

an alpha male who ruled over 10% of the property.

Zorro was a mature alpha when he was first identified in March 2015, so it can safely be presumed he was breeding with females in this colony already by this time.

Even though Zorro only used a small section of the property, he managed to father joey’s in 2017 with Racee and possibly Greta.

This means that Zorro was a very important part of the colony as he contributed important genetic material.

Zorro was identified on the property 49 times from January until September 2017.

Zorro was last seen healthy and strong on the property in Sepember 2017 – it is not known whether he has changed his home range or has met with misadventure. His last times seen here was when Bullet and Takeshi were both seen frequently in territory disputes over the are Zorro normally ruled.

Zorro in 2017
Eagle in 2017

EAGLE

was just looking like she might settle here, but after 24 days she moved off somewhere else.

The first week she was here, she moved up and down the property almost zig-zagging.

Then she settled into the big red gums beside the house for 18 days and just when it seemed she was here to stay, she was gone again.

We hope she found a home with a good food supply to live a long life as she was a big, healthy girl.

TAKESHI

was only seen here 13 times.

He spent a lot of that time having altercations with Bullet and possibly with Zorro as he tried to claim a place in the colony.

The video here shows how koala males fight and it is a dangerous thing as they are a long way from the ground, so in fact being flung from the branch is the greatest threat. Those teeth and claws are sharp, but their fur is thick.

Bullet takes a smart strategy of moving out on the limb and in fact he is the winner in the long run, even if this looks like Takeshi is winning.

Gizmae in 2017

GIZMAE

is a beautiful dark coloured female who spent 11 days on the property. Most of that time was spent in a single tree.

She was large and healthy.

She was originally named Gizmo, but when it was confirmed she was female her name was altered.

We hope she went on to find a good home range to live in.

ORCHID

was the biggest surprise koala on the property so far.

I was walking along with a wheelbarrow of mulch, in the garden area when I heard a noise and turned to find a koala – in an African Tulip tree, surrounded by Mexican Agavae, and sitting amongst beautiful Orchids.

Hence she received her name.

She spent 8 days on the property (but in gum trees) and we hope she found a home to live long, wild and free.

One day she was in Mist’s secret corner, she is 1 of only 2 other koalas that have ever been seen there.

Orchid in 2017
Greta and her joey in 2017

GRETA

seems to have moved her home range a little since 2016 and was only seen on 7 days of the whole year.

Fortunately she had a big healthy joey with her on several of those days, so we could see that she is thriving.

Her eye still weeps, but she is big, strong and breeding so we can feel quite satisfied that it is indeed just a tear duct issue.

BMAX

spent just 4 days here over a month
during August and September.

He was a sub-adult at the time and was likely looking for a place to name his own home range.

Many seeing him felt he had a strong resemblance to Maxine, and he may well have been related to her.

We hope he found a safe place to live a good long life.

Bmax in 2017
Stan in 2017

STAN

was only seen on the property 3 days during early August.

As Koala Gardens is positioned inside a natural koala corridor it is expected that each year a number of animals will move through for various reasons – mostly in search of a place to make a home range and a colony to fit into.

We hope he found the right place to live in safety.

DIGGER

arrived one afternoon as a summer thunder storm was brewing and this is the first photo I got of him.

A delightful looking young adult.

He stayed one more day and that was the last we have seen of him.

Hopefully he found a safe place to make his home.

Digger in 2017
Flash in 2017

FLASH

was a surprise to find in a casuarina tree. Although they are classed as a secondary food tree, I rarely see koalas in the few of these that are on the property.

It always pays to check every tree.

He was only seen here on 2 days, so we hope he found a safe place to call home.

ANCHOR

was only ever seen once and the photographic quality is poor.

It was certain without a perfect photo that this was a new koala because all other koalas that were close to the size of this one had already been identified that particular day.

Anchor was down in Mist’s secret corner and is one of only 2 other koalas besides Mist I have ever seen down there.

Hopefully Anchor found a safe home.

Anchor in 2017
Cyrano in 2017

CYRANO

was only seen once at Koala Gardens in 2017.

This sighting however was significant and exciting. Cyrano was seen here 17 times during 2016. It can now be presumed (though it is not fact, but a good guess) that he made a home range fairly close by.

When he was seen this one time, he was in a very strange position. I woke at 4am to the sound of a koala screaming. When the sun came up and I went looking, I found Cyrano in a Leopard tree (NOT a native) and Jordan in the same tree.

So it would seem that some boundaries had been breached, and a lesson as being taught. Wouldn’t we love to know the full details of who, what, where and when?

HOPE

only spent one day at Koala Gardens.

She had a large, healthy joey with her.

It is presumed that she was possibly looking for somewhere to leave her joey to become independent. This presumption is made mostly by the size of the back young and how independent the behaviour was on that one day.

A perfect name for a mother koala with the next generation in this world where habitat is being destroyed at such a rate.

We hope indeed that her joey found a safe home.

Hope and her joey in 2017
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