HUGO – on a mission

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What’s up YouTube?

Today we get to go on a mission with Hugo.

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Over on the western side of the property Matilda couldn't look more at ease, and Ellie does her best imitation of her. How laid back are these girls?

Now Ash seems to come through the property a couple of times each month. He's always in this red gum or in the bloodwoods surrounding it.

And then like clockwork, the next day I always come along and find Ash is gone and Hugo is here now. At the moment Hugo’s in a bloodwood, and here's the red gum that we just saw Ash had been in the day before.

This red gum is the tallest tree on the property.

Hugo’s on the move. This is such a treat to be here when he's so active, because he's probably the male that I catch in action the least often.

Notice him rubbing that scent gland on the tree. This is often done in quite a subtle way. Hugo is a large Alpha and yet he's very agile up in his tree environment.

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Now koala behaviour and communication is so subtle. Hugo smells everything both directly on the branches and in the air and what you'll see is he is actually tasting the smells that he's processing right now.

Yep you can actually see a large tick on his forehead and a mark on his upper lip. And just look at that scent gland.

Hugo is actually on a pretty serious surveillance mission just now. Nothing that ash has done. Nowhere that he's been is going to be missed. I wouldn't be surprised if Hugo has been going up and down most of the trees around the red gum doing exactly this.

This nesting box you can see is part of a project on the property to provide breeding boxes for a vulnerable native bird called the little lorikeet.

Hugo stops now and just takes a few minutes to sit and process what he has smelled so far and decide what his next move is going to be. He's really found a perfect spot to just sit and chew that smell over a bit.

OK decisions been made and he's on his way down again.

Now he's arrived at the red gum that I found Ash in yesterday.

Hugo wasn't even on the property at the time.

Until the last few months in fact, I had never seen him in this part of the property at all.

So how do koalas know where the others are?

Koalas communicate in two main ways. One is by bellowing and the other is by scent marking. So maybe when Ash is here, he does some bellowing at night before he leaves and maybe that's what gets Hugo's attention.

Koalas also have an amazing sense of smell. So maybe Hugo catches his smell on the breeze. Personally, I think it's a combination of the two.

If koalas were to make signs, there'd be one here saying, ‘rest area’. I've actually taken photos several times over the years of different koalas sitting in that exact same spot.

You can see just how strong those arms and claws are when you watch a koala climbing like this. Notice that Hugo stops and smells all the time because Ashes left an entire story in these trees that mere humans will never know.

And of course, jumping, is the best way to move.

Hugo’s now moved up into the top 25 percent of the tree which is the leafy canopy area. I've moved part way around the tree and can just get a little view through to him as he continues to move higher and higher.

And now I'm right around the other side of the tree.

Hugo is settling right on in for a feed as you might appreciate this mission has used up quite a lot of calories and it's a good opportunity for Hugo to refuel.

A lot of the times that we see koalas they appear to be sleepy, quiet animals, that do little more than eat leaves.

But they're actually very aware of all that goes on in their territory and they can move across quite large distances to send and receive messages to each other by smell that are way beyond our comprehension.

The scent that they leave is packaged up in an oil base, so they can be read for weeks after they've been left.

I wonder what it is that Hugo and Ash have actually said to each other?

Thanks for giving us such a fascinating look at your day Hugo.

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