Tuesday, 11 February 2014


For many years the Clarence Valley was not exactly seen as a hotspot for koalas. In fact many residents did not suspect we even had koalas in the Valley. In a landscape of sugar cane, cattle and sprawling rural development, koalas did not readily spring to mind.

A small but viable koala population was known around Ashby, for which the then Maclean Shire Council developed a plan of management to try to maintain it in perpetuity. But it seemed isolated. The previous Iluka colony was believed extinct, and only a few forestry workers and local landowners with eucalypts on their properties mentioned seeing an occasional koala.

With the introduction of the NSW Wildlife Atlas and the advent of WIRES into the Valley things began to change. At first WIRES' records were hazy - jottings in dog-eared notebooks with little information about where an animal was found. But as the significance of location became clearer so the importance of WIRES' records began to be noticed. No other group was able to collect so much data, about so many different species, in a short space of time, totally free of charge.

Due mainly to WIRES' records we now know koalas survive in scattered numbers along the rivers, creeks and tributaries in a rough crescent around the floodplains. We also know they still exist in Iluka, from where a small but regular inflow of records triggered another survey by ecologist Steve Phillips, whose ensuing report warned Council to tread carefully around Iluka because koalas were returning.

Now the Clarence Valley has been mapped as hosting two meta koala populations, Coffs Harbour/Guy Fawkes to the South and Clarence/Richmond to the north.

Clarence Valley WIRES will hold their next training course on 22-23 March. Anyone interested in rescuing and caring for native wildlife should book by the hotline 6643 4055

Patricia Edwards

Young koala in care