How much can a koala bear?

Raised toward our $7,000 Goal
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Project ends on October 31, at 05:00 PM AEDT
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How much can a koala bear?

On a scorching, dry day, there’s nothing more important than hydration. But for koalas living in the Eastern states, extreme temperatures are drying out the eucalyptus leaves that once provided them with all the water they required.

Parched and overheated, Australia’s iconic koalas are growing desperate and changing their behaviour to cope with rising temperatures: they’re drinking.

This is a worrying behavioural change for an animal whose name literally means “no drink”. Postdoctoral Research Associate Valentina Mella from the University of Sydney’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences - whose research uncovered this growing trend in the koala population, is hoping to make others aware about the dire impact the heat is having on koalas and what it could mean for their survival.

To help affected populations, Dr Mella has created ‘Blinky Drinkers’—water feeders which can be placed up in the trees to give struggling koalas access to safe drinking water when needed.

The koalas that are part of the study are marked with uniquely numbered microchips and ear-tags for future identification and they undergo regular health checks. Water stations are monitored using infra-red motion-sensor cameras and microchip readers to record visits by koalas and to establish how many koalas access the same water points.

This study is the world-first to quantify the use of free water by koalas in the wild. Therefore, this project is vital to understand whether koala water supplementation can be used as a mitigation tool against heat-stress and if the dramatic declines in koala numbers can be reduced over hot summers.

This project is fundamental for the ongoing protection of one of Australia's much loved native species.

Your gift to the ‘Koala Drinking Fountains’ project will help Dr Mella and her team to set-up more ‘Blinky Drinkers’ in threatened koala communities and better understand how we can help our koalas face the problem of a changing climate.”

Choose a giving level


Health Checks

If 4 people gave $5, this would help the team with Veterinary costs for regular health checks and disease status assessment of 1 koala. This could include screenings for Chlamydia, Cryptococcus, Koala Retrovirus (KoRV), hydration status and monitoring of reproductive status.


Clinical Assessments

If 5 people gave $10, this would help the team with costs for water turnover and field metabolic rate assessments for 1 koala. This could determine differences in the energy and water use between koalas that have access to water and those that do not.


GPS Monitors

If 50 people gave $20, this would help the team to purchase GPS monitoring system for 1 koala in the study area to determine movement patterns.


Laboratory Testing

If 2 people gave $50, this would help the team to carry out 1 leaf chemistry test to determine the water-content and nutritional status of different types of eucalyptus leaves under various climatic conditions and link them to the use of water stations.

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