The impact on koalas of the bushfires on Kangaroo Island has been significant, but there is no danger to the survival of their population on the island.
Before the fires there were an estimated 50,000 koalas on Kangaroo Island – about half in native vegetation and half in blue gum plantations. Large areas of their preferred habitat have been burnt, and a substantial number of koalas are expected to have died.
The Department for Environment and Water’s Director of Wildlife and Nature Conservation, Lisien Loan, said there would be a detailed assessment of the impact on koalas and other species once the fire was under control and it was safe to get out on the ground.
“We know the impact on their habitat has been significant, but there are other areas on the island that were not affected by fire and are known to have koalas remaining,” she said.
“We will be considering koalas along with other wildlife in our recovery planning work.
“The koalas on the island are important because they are the only chlamydia-free koala population in South Australia, and possibly Australia, and also have low rates of other diseases that affect many mainland populations.”
Koalas are not native to Kangaroo Island but have thrived there since 18 from Victoria were released on the island in the early 1920s. This was a response to the decline in koala numbers in the south-east of the state caused by hunting for the fur trade.
The South Australian Government and Nature Foundation SA have set up the Wildlife Recovery Fund to re-establish habitat for wildlife in the state’s bushfire-ravaged regions.
For the latest information on parks closures and alerts, visit https://www.parks.sa.gov.au/know-before-you-go/closures-and-alerts