23 October 2012

Koalas_iStock_000020973636The first Great Koala Count in South Australia is taking place on November 28, with people across the state being urged to monitor and record their experiences and sightings of koalas on that day.

The Citizen Science project, which is a joint collaboration involving the University of South Australia and ABC Local Radio, will enable data to be collected about the iconic marsupials, to determine their range and population distribution around the state.

Professor Chris Daniels, Director of the Barbara Hardy Institute, says the count will build a detailed picture of koala hotspots in South Australia which will prove useful in learning more about these sleep-friendly, eucalypt eating animals.

“Koalas have a fascinating history in South Australia,” Prof Daniels says.

“They were hunted to extinction in the south east in the 1900s but colonies were established on Kangaroo Island and their numbers increased again as they were bought back to the mainland in areas including Mt Lofty in the 1950s and 1960s.”

“As their natural habitat of woodlands and forests is under threat from urban development, koalas have become an increasingly suburban animal.

“It’s incredibly difficult to know how many there are out there now, but as most koalas are quite at home in people’s backyards, we are appealing for people to monitor and send to us their findings on that day.” 

A smartphone app will be made available on the Koala Count day which observers can download and use to record and capture location data, using GPS technology.

“We also have about 30-40 schools that will be taking part in the event and believe it will be a great opportunity for everyone to learn more about their environment and to appreciate sharing their space with these wonderful animals,” Prof Daniels says.

“The information that is collected will be compiled into a book which will be published next year.” 

The Great Koala Count is a joint initiative Citizen Science project between the Department of Environment Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR), the Adelaide and Mt Lofty NRM Board, CSIRO, the University of South Australia and ABC Local Radio.

To discover more about getting involved, call the Great Koala Count hotline on 08 8302 9999 or email koalacount@unisa.edu.au

For further information there is a Great Koala Count Facebook page, a series of YouTube videos about the count and about koalas, and a number of teacher resources available.

Contact for interview:

Chris Daniels office 8302 2317 mobile 0410 422 759 email chris.daniels@unisa.edu.au

Media contact: Will Venn office 8302 0965 email Will.Venn@unisa.edu.au

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