What is the Kangaroo Island koala management project?
Natural Resources Kangaroo Island (KI) are working with the community to maintain and enhance the state of the environment in the region. The KI koala management project began in 1997, following an independent assessment of the increasing koala population on the island and its impact on native vegetation, particularly manna gums as these are a preferred food source for koalas. As a result of increasing koala numbers, manna gums have been lost across many parts of the island, putting enormous pressure on remaining manna gum habitat and causing other ecological impacts, such as increased erosion of stream banks. There is no evidence to suggest that koalas can self-regulate their numbers (as kangaroos do in response to environmental factors), which means they may eventually consume all the available food within an area, resulting in their own starvation.
What is being done?
The KI koala management project aims to reduce koala densities to a sustainable level to protect native vegetation. The project is based on:
- koala fertility control (hormone implant at the base of tree)
- monitoring (koala density and tree condition).
Culling is not permitted as a management option in the National Koala Conservation and Management Strategy 2009–2014 and the SA Koala Conservation and Management Strategy 2016.
What has been achieved?
Since the project began, more than 13,500 koalas have been sterilised or contracepted and about 3,800 of these translocated to their historic range in the South East of South Australia, making it one of the largest fertility control projects in the world. In addition, koala numbers and tree condition are monitored to determine the effectiveness of the project and to inform management on priority areas.
In 2015 there was an estimated 25,00 koalas in native vegetation on KI and an additional 23,000 koalas estimated to be on commercial bluegum plantations.
These estimates are being further investigated using spatial modelling by the University of Adelaide.
Read the most recent koala census report.
To find out more, download the KI Koala Management FAQs.