Mac Koala: Park is a koala refuge

LAST Sunday week, with the declaration of the Dharawal National Park, was a significant day because we believe the site is a refuge area for koalas.

Its protection will mean there will always be a source of koalas to recolonise areas damaged by fire — free from dogs and cars.

The site is linked by bushland to Holsworthy Firing Range, Woronora River water-catchment area, Heathcote and Royal National Parks to the east, Cataract River catchment area and Morton National Park to the south and via bush corridors beside Appin Road to the Nepean River to the west.

So there will always be young koalas setting off across the countryside from our new national park to replenish existing populations or regenerate extinct ones.

Several interesting sightings were reported this week, three local and two from further afield.

Two local ones were from the northern end of Smiths Creek. This has been a popular site for the old male, Price, but our regular correspondent from that area, Bernadette, tells us the latest sighting was of a young, untagged animal. None of the koalas have yet been sighted trying to cross Pembroke Road near Wests League Club.

It makes us wonder whether some koalas, like some cats and dogs, develop road sense. The third local report was from the retirement village at Kentlyn, a favourite site for koalas.

One of the non-local reports was from Remembrance Drive, just north of Tahmoor. We know there is a population in the nearby Avon Dam catchment and that koalas are regularly killed near the Pheasants Creek bridge on the F6, but we expect to find other sites in the area as well. We tagged one young female several years ago at Pheasants Nest and it was later reported from Tahmoor.

We would love to know where she is now. As our koalas live up to 15 years she may still be there. The second non-local report was from Comleroy Road at East Kurrajong.

Sightings from this area are relatively regular and suggest there is a reasonable population of koalas.

Tristan's DNA study, in fact, showed koalas from this area had greater genetic variation than our Campbelltown animals.

This means the Campbelltown koalas are fewer in number or went through a large population crash in the past.

Report koala sightings on the UWS pager, 9962 9996.