What a fantastic koala conservation day for our tour guiding students! Despite a threatening sky, 14 students met Echidna Walkabout Tours bright and early to head down to our western plains. The You Yangs Regional Park is 30+ hectares of bushland suitable to koalas and is an easy 45 minute drive from Melbourne. The group was led by two wildlife and koala researchers who rotated the students to do two tasks: ‘bone seeding’ and observing koalas.
Although the bone seed (Chrystanthemoides monilifera) is a beautiful looking bush with bright yellow flowers, it is an invasive weed from South Africa that needs to be kept under control in koala habitat. The students managed to clear an area the size of a football field within 90 minutes. A great effort for a great cause! Koalas are definitely in decline all over Australia due to global warming…. Whereas eucalypt leaves were sufficiently nutritious to koalas until recently, global warming makes this traditional food source lacking in water which forces koalas to come down to ground level and eat succulents as well. Not a very safe place for them…Their only other option is to slowly starve to death high in the trees…
The researchers photographed the koalas, located them on their GPS whilst our students noted their behaviour and tree species they were located in. Whilst moving around the property, we also observed birds such as fan birds, eastern rosellas, gallahs and cockatoos, wallabies and kangaroos as well as 1 echidna.
The golden wattle was in full bloom, the sun managed to shine occasionally and all students enjoyed helping and learning about koalas in the wild. There was lots of questions from the students to the owner, Janine, and her tour guides, Kirby and Mel (a bubbly Wathaurang Aboriginal lady).
Students were also told about the opportunity for future volunteering in the field. Anyone interested in koalas’ plight, please contact the Koala Clancy Foundation, a not for profit associaton funded by Echidna Walkabout. The next conservation days are Monday 21 September, Sat. 31 October, Sat .28 November and Sunday 13 December – 9am-2 pm. $20 pp and all proceeds go to koalas. All you need to bring is lunch, drinking water, gardening gloves and binoculars.
To book, please go to: http://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/koala-conservation-day-for-local-tickets-16179742044/ or call 9646 8249.