EVALUATION: TOOWOOMBA REGION KOALA COUNT

SAVE MT LOFTY INC EVALUATION
TOOWOOMBA REGION KOALA COUNT
NOVEMBER 2021

BACKGROUND

Our Toowoomba community organisation, Save Mt Lofty Inc organised the Toowoomba
Region Koala Count during November 2021.

1 Our Toowoomba Count was based on a publicized Koala Count being undertaken with the support and funding of the Logan City Council.2
The methodology used by both Koala Counts was based on personal observations of
members of the public (called citizen scientists) utilizing the iNaturalist mobile app. This
app is run by the National Geographic organisation with observations linked back to the
Atlas of Living Australia managed by the CSIRO.
3 The iNaturalist app takes the date and location metadata from original smart phone photos with species ID then independently confirmed by species experts.
Each Count was held during the month of November 2021 to coincide with the expected
peak of the local koala mating season. In Toowoomba, Save Mt Lofty liaised with local
environmental groups including Darling Downs Environment Council, the various local
wildlife rescue and rehabilitation services and many Landcare groups. The Toowoomba
Count was also publicised through the various local Facebook community noticeboard
pages and also with two interviews on ABC Radio Southern Queensland.

COUNT RESULTS

In terms of raw data, the Toowoomba Region Koala Count recorded 92? observations
of koalas from over 20 individual observers across the Toowoomba Regional Council
local government area (LGA).

1 https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/toowoomba-region-koala-count-november-2021
https://www.facebook.com/toowoombaregionkoalacount 2 https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/logan-koala-count-2021
https://www.logan.qld.gov.au/events/event/779/logan-koala-count-2021- 3 https://www.ala.org.au/
2

The koalas sighted were disbursed across the region with 2 significant areas – a northeastern area between Highfields and Yarraman and an area around Pittsworth.
We had 4 observers who were particularly successful; each observing multiple koalas.
We had about 10 observers who reported only one sighting. Some of these observers
sought assistance to have their sightings recorded on the iNaturalist platform due to
general inexperience with computers. Many local landholders conducted extensive
searches but reported no sightings. From the successful observers, it became apparent
that some people are gifted to sight koalas quickly when others can spend minutes at
the same tree without success. Binoculars were not essential to locate koalas but useful
to check details such as sex and health of each animal.

The month of November was extremely wet right across the Toowoomba Region. Save
Mt Lofty members have had significant success locating koalas during drought times
when foliage is sparse and koalas are attracted to moister gullies. During good seasons,
we are advised that koalas have their pick of many habitats and so the species
distribution was expected to be more widespread. We feel the wet season led to
significant under reporting due to our observers not wanting to get wet and koalas being
more widely distributed.
In general terms, koalas sighted appeared in excellent condition. Only one animal had
suspected chlamydia with an obvious eye condition. One koala was observed by a local
koala rescue officer as road kill north of Crows Nest.
Whilst it is not a race, to date it appears have the Logan Koala Count reported less than
30 observations from about 13 individual observers during the month of November
across their Logan City LGA.
Logan LGA is geographically significantly smaller than the Toowoomba Region LGA but
has a significantly larger population.4
In October 2021, Save Mt Lofty approached Toowoomba Regional Council to run a
koala count along the lines of that then proposed by the Logan City Council. When the
TRC didn’t step up, we sought TRC support for our Koala Count and a modest article
was posted on the TRC website. Councillors responsible for the Environment and
Development portfolios expressed support for the Toowoomba Count and will consider
the outcomes from this evaluation with a view to the 2022 Count.

4 Logan City Council 958km² with estimated population 330,000
Toowoomba Regional Council 12,957 km² with estimated population 170,000
5

OUTCOMES

  1. The Toowoomba project enabled the issue of local koalas and their habitat to be
    publicized throughout the Toowoomba Region. In particular, the social media
    posts on local community noticeboards and the 2 ABC SQ Radio longform
    interviews increased this publicity significantly. We expect there has been a
    significant increase in appreciation of the availability of the koala within the
    Toowoomba Region communities.

  2. Although the Count is not a reliable scientific tool for quantifying total koala
    numbers, it is apparent from our Toowoomba Count that our koalas have a wide
    distribution across our LGA.

  3. The Toowoomba project enabled co-ordination between local environmental and
    landcare organisations. In particular, interaction between city based groups
    (Save Mt Lofty and DDEC) with country groups (Pittsworth Landcare & Save our
    Koala Country) was positive and will lead to on-going cooperation.

  4. The Toowoomba project has motivated local environmental groups involved in
    local koala habitat protection campaigns. Both Save Mt Lofty (DHA rifle range
    land, and Save of Our Koala County (ARTC Inland Rail around Pittsworth) are
    conducting significant koala habitat campaigns needing constant publicity to
    maintain momentum.

  5. The Logan City Council’s auspice of their 2021 Koala Count should send a
    significant message to the Toowoomba Region Council that ‘the squeaky wheel
    gets the oil’. We understand LCC provided funding and council staff time to their
    count. Save Mt Lofty provided member’s time on a voluntary basis but no funding

  6. It is understood that the Logan City Council received significant State
    Government funding under the SE Qld Koala Conservation Strategy. It is
    understood the Toowoomba Region Council received no such funding.

  7. It is hoped that the Toowoomba Regional Council will takes the initiative from the
    momentum of the 2021 Toowoomba Region Koala Count to raise the profile of
    the koala and threats to its habitat across our region. We would be happy for
    TRC to fund the 2022 Koala Count which Save Mt Lofty Inc is prepared to run
    again next year. Federal Government funding is also available for a scientific
    audit of koalas across our region.5 so long as TRC is seen to be taking a
    proactive role in the care of the koala and its habitat in our region.
    5 https://minister.awe.gov.au/ley/media-releases/18-million-koala-package-include-landmark-census
    6

  8. Toowoomba politicians are critically aware of the love felt for our koalas. Save Mt
    Lofty’s 2020 Change. Org petition secured over 144,000 signatures to Save Mt
    Lofty’s koalas.6 The koala is crucial to the success of the Australian tourism7 and
    to the prospect of international tourists returning in the future to our region
    following COVID.

8 TRC is well positioned to encourage such tourism with an
increased emphasis on koalas in our region.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Kev Loveday, Save Our Koala Country, Pittsworth
Tess Teakle, Save Our Koala Country, Pittsworth
Tracey Thomson Yarran Farming, Yarranlea
Shaen & Pascale Egan, Save Mt Lofty
Koala Land and Wildlife Support, (KLAWS) Geham
Alistair Silcock, Pittsworth Landcare
Leon Surawski, Darling Downs Environment Council, Toowoomba
ABC Southern Queensland, Toowoomba
Elizabeth Reid, TRC Strategic Planning Section.

FURTHER INFORMATION

Chris Meibusch
Secretary
Save Mt Lofty Inc
Toowoomba Region Koala Count
E chrismeibusch@gmail.com
M 0419765078

1 December 2021

6 https://www.change.org/p/toowoomba-council-save-the-mt-lofty-koalas 7 https://theconversation.com/koalas-are-the-face-of-australian-tourism-what-now-after-the-fires-129347# 8 https://www.wagnercorporation.com.au/wellcamp-airport/australias-newest-airport/
https://www.tr.qld.gov.au/about-council/council-governance/plans-strategy-reports/various-documents/12401-
tourism-and-events-strategy-2016-2020

Lähettänyt bushychrismeibusch bushychrismeibusch, 3. joulukuuta 2021 05:18

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