Community Koala Survey in Bongil Bongil

Bongil Bongil National Park koala. Photo Martin Smith
Bongil Bongil National Park koala. Photo Martin Smith

The sixth annual Community Koala Survey program is starting soon in Bongil Bongil National Park south of Coffs Harbour, and they’re looking for volunteer spotters.

Since 2013, this National Parks and Wildlife Service program has been monitoring koala numbers in order to understand how the population fluctuates over time.

NPWS Area Manager Glenn Storrie said participants looked forward to the survey every year.

“Walking through the forest at night with a powerful spotlight while using audio call-back equipment is a fabulous way to spend a warm spring evening, and can reveal native animals not normally seen in the national park during the day,” he said.

“We will train community volunteers and equip them to help conduct night-time surveys, recording the presence of koalas and any other wildlife they might encounter.

“Last year the teams discovered a regionally significant population of the rare Yellow-bellied Glider while conducting these surveys, so koalas are not the only animals they come across.

“Teams walk the park’s trails supervised by an experienced ranger, collecting valuable data on one of the most important koala populations in the state.

“The surveys are conducted just after sunset in the middle of the koala breeding season in late September to early October, a time when koalas are on the move and most vocal.”

Volunteers are required to take part in at least two 2-hour surveys, beginning just after dark.

Surveys are conducted every four nights, equating to a total of five night’s work over 16 days.

Surveys this year begin at 6pm on Monday September 24 at a registration point on Pine Creek Way near Repton.

An information and training session for prospective new volunteers will be held at 6pm Wednesday September 19 at NPWS’ Coffs Coast Area offices at: Coffs Harbour Jetty, 32 Marina Drive, Coffs Harbour.

Those interested in participating in the program or who want to know more about it should contact the project manager, Ranger Martin Smith at the NPWS Coffs Harbour office on 02 6652 0907 or at martin.smith@environment.nsw.gov.au.