CUDDLY KOALA: The Richard Branson Koala Conservancy has recently completed its pilot project with a focus on the koala populations inhabiting the Noosa River.
CUDDLY KOALA: The Richard Branson Koala Conservancy has recently completed its pilot project with a focus on the koala populations inhabiting the Noosa River. Contributed

Groundbreaking study reveals secret life of our koalas

A YEAR of studying koalas has revealed their habits and disease rates in a bid to increase their dwindling numbers.

In May 2016, the Richard Branson Koala Conservancy was established in an attempt to counteract the local and regional koala crisis and after its first year of activities, details of their pilot research project have been released.

The koala population of the Noosa River catchment was the subject of the $75,000 study, the first of its kind in the Noosa Shire.

With a focus on disease rates, disease management, causes of mortality and other threats, Richard Branson said he was "pleased that this pilot project has formulated the beginnings of a roadmap, in terms of what we need to do to be successful in our efforts to save the koala in 2018 and beyond".

"There is nothing like seeing these beautiful creatures living in their natural habitat, and this worrying report suggests action is necessary now to ensure this privilege remains," he said.

Five adult koalas, made up of three males and two females aged from 2.5 to 6 years were monitored for the project with the animals found to visit a wide range of areas including bushland, park and urban habitat.

Two of the males crossed Eenie Creek Rd - which has an 80km/h speed limit - numerous times with the Noosa Council now reviewing the area as part of a wildlife crossing audit.

Chlamydia-related disease was found in two of the animals, but after treatment they tested negative.

Former Virgin Blue boss Brett Godfrey said the research had "real, demonstrable and persistent benefits to local koala populations" with the group expected to "redouble" their efforts this year in an attempt to gain government funding.



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