42 koalas found in drone search at NSW‘s Coolah Tops National Park

Dozens of koalas have been discovered in NSW’s Coolah Tops National Park in the state’s northwest, as the government moves to complete a statewide count.

In the past 70 years, only five koalas had been found in the same area, with the discovery of 42 considered a major win for the endangered species.

The marsupials were discovered through thermal drones and sniffer dogs in the high elevation forests of the national park.

Camera Icon42 koalas have been found in the NSW’s Coolah Tops National Park. NSW Government Credit: Supplied
koala Coolah Tops National Park
Camera IconOnly five koalas have been found in the national park in the last 70 years. NSW Government Credit: Supplied
koala Coolah Tops National Park
Camera IconKoalas have been listed as an endangered species since February 2022. NSW Government Credit: Supplied

Despite a lack of sightings, researchers and scientists were drawn to the area after audio detections picked up on the sound of koala bellows in Spring 2023.

The drone survey was executed by the Department of Planning and Environment part of the NSW Koala Strategy which aims to double the koala population by 2050.

The Department of Planning and Environment has begun a statewide koala count to establish a population baseline for the endangered species – a first for NSW.

Sound recorders, drones and trained spotters will assess about 1000 sites, to establish the size and distribution of the koala population, to ensure the species’ survival.

koala Coolah Tops National Park
Camera IconInfra-red drones, sniffers dogs and trained spotters will be used to establish a koala population. NSW Government Credit: Supplied

NSW Environmental Minister Penny Sharpe said it was a major win to save the koala population.

“To save our koala population we need to know where the koalas are, how many koalas are out there, because without this information, everything else is just guesswork,” she said.

“We’ve started protecting koala-preferred habitat from logging or grazing, we’re using cutting edge technology to confirm koala numbers, and we will create the Great Koala National Park in our first term in government.”

In May, the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) acquired 4500 hectares of bushland near Port Macquarie, which connected four existing reserves which are home to two koala populations in Comboyne and South Kempsey. It’s estimated 30 to 60 koalas occupied the areas.

The new bulk of land will allow the animals to move through the land, while also protecting the habitats of at least 45 threatened species including the Hasting River mouse, spotted-tailed quoll and glossy black cockatoo.

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