Kangaroo Island Koala Management Program
The Kangaroo Island Koala Management Program began in 1997, following an independent assessment of the increasing koala population on Kangaroo Island (KI) and its impact upon the survival of certain Eucalypt species on which the koalas were selectively feeding.
The Koala Program is based on the management of an environmentally sustainable koala population on KI through: habitat restoration, surgical sterilisation and translocation of koalas from critically damaged natural areas on KI to the South East of South Australia (the koalas' former natural range).
The Koala program utilises non-lethal management options and involves no culling of koalas. The South Australian Government assisted in the development and is a signatory to the National Koala Conservation and Management Strategy 2009-2014, endorsed by the Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council, which rejects culling or the spread of disease as management options for koalas. The Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources manages the Koala Management Program on KI.
Effectiveness of the KI Koala Management Program
Since the program began, over 9,500 koalas have been sterilised 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 programs in the world. In addition, koala numbers and tree condition are monitored annually to determine the effectiveness of the program and to inform management as to where and when habitat restoration and koala management is required.
The program has been effective in reducing koala numbers through non-lethal measures, resulting in an improvement in tree condition in areas where management has been undertaken. Koala densities on the island have reduced from an average of 3.3 koalas/ha in 1996 to 0.90 koalas/ha at some sites in 2009. However, koala densities remain above sustainable densities at about a third of the sites. Sustainable densities (0.75 koalas/ha) are those at which it is predicted that damage to the Eucalypt trees will be minimal. Ongoing management is critical to maintaining declining koala densities and ensuring the KI koala population does not begin to increase and reach their pre management densities.