Koalas from Kangaroo Island have been relocated to Cleland Wildlife Park to form a disease-free population

06 Feb 2020 5 min read

Originally published by Good Living

South Australia’s recent bushfires ravaged 210,000 hectares on Kangaroo Island and many of the koalas that survived the bushfires are struggling to find food.

That’s why 28 koalas have now been transferred from Kangaroo Island to Cleland Wildlife Park to create a disease-free population on mainland South Australia.

The island’s Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary and Adelaide’s Cleland Wildlife Park have partnered up to translocate the animals to prevent them from dying of starvation and help establish this special population on mainland SA.

Kangaroo Island koalas are free of chlamydia and have a low rate of an AIDS-like disease called KORV, which is widespread in SA's mainland populations.

Traditionally koalas taken from Kangaroo Island can’t be returned because of the risk of introducing diseases but with large amounts of wildlife habitats destroyed, the State Government has taken the significant step of translocating the animals to Cleland.

The rescued koalas came from the western end of the island, where most, if not all, of their habitat has been lost in the recent bushfires.

They are being nurtured back to health by experts at Cleland Wildlife Park, Australian Marine Wildlife Research & Rescue Organisation (AMWRRO) and Zoos SA.

Many of them are staying in enclosures built by Cleland Wildlife Park staff and contractors with help from the Australian Defence Force. The military is also working in shifts to help with the three-times-a-day juvenile koala feeds.

The rescued koalas will also help experts understand more about debilitating diseases plaguing koala populations Australia-wide and their offspring may become part of a rewilding program in future years.

The rescue of Kangaroo Island koalas is a partnership between the SA Government, Koala Life, Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, AMWRRO and Zoos SA.

(Main image courtesy ofNicole Mankowski)