Koalas are thirsty for your help

$29,675
98%
Raised toward our $30,000 Goal
657 Donors
8
days left
Project ends on July 16, at 05:00 PM AEST
Project Owners

An update on our koala study, just for you

June 17, 2020

I hope this update finds you in good health and spirits. Amidst these challenging times, I wanted to share an update with you detailing the progress we have made thanks to your generous support.

 

Our koala study is going well and continues to expand. 

 

We have been able to demonstrate that the use of free water by wild koalas has always been underestimated and that koalas have stronger reliance on free water than previously thought. This University of Sydney article details our recent research findings, including the phenomena of koalas drinking water by licking trees during rain. 

 

We have received requests from all over Australia from people who would like to set up drinking stations for koalas on their properties. We also have new exciting collaborations with WIRES.

 

With your gift, we have been able to:

  • Microchip, ear tag and monitor health and disease of 117 koalas since the beginning of the crowdfunding campaign;
  • Track 43 koalas so far using VHF devices (another 60 soon);
  • Monitor how leaf moisture changes between seasons and in drought conditions;
  • Determine the differences in the energy and water use between drinking and non-drinking koalas.

We are now investigating the relationship between water supplementation and koala core body temperature. Koalas use evaporative cooling (i.e. panting) to lower their body temperature when it is hot, but by panting koalas lose a lot of body water. This needs to be replenished by eating leaves or by drinking free water. During heatwaves and droughts, koalas’ capacity to sustain high levels of evaporative cooling is restricted by the lack of available water in the environment. Hence, water supplementation may play an essential role for the survival of koalas and may help drinking individuals to keep cool when temperature is high. By monitoring core body temperature we will determine if there are differences in how drinking and non-drinking koalas cope with temperature extremes.

 

Thank you so much for donating to our project. Your contribution has gone a long way for koala conservation, and we have achieved so much to help koalas.

 

Climate change is an immediate threat that is already taking its toll on koala populations and effective mitigation measures need to be assessed and implemented quickly.

 

If you are in a position to do so, I ask you to please continue to support our work on koalas. Our team is multidisciplinary and comprises of dedicated scientists with different expertise in koala research, pioneering studies in koala behaviour, ecology, health and conservation. 

 

Thank you for supporting our koalas and our research. 

 

Dr Valentina Mella

 

You can continue to help our koalas

December 03, 2019

Thanks to your support, Dr Valentina Mella and her research team have been able to continue their research into the safeguarding of koalas against climate change.

 

Unfortunately, the plight of koalas has worsened due to the catastrophic bush fires currently wreaking havoc across Australia.

 

"Koalas have always been affected by fire but the problem these days is that the koala is a vulnerable species, facing many different threats," says Dr Mella.

 

"The added impact of fire might have catastrophic effects on koala populations. Koala numbers have already been declining in NSW because of habitat fragmentation, Chlamydial disease (which causes infertility), climate change and mortality related to urbanisation, such as vehicle strikes or domestic dog attacks.

 

"Now, more than 80 bushfires have destroyed thousands of hectares of good koala habitat, with hundreds of koalas feared dead. Koalas that live in already fragmented habitats (like urban areas near Port Macquarie) and survive the fires, will struggle to find available habitat to recolonise."

 

Dr Mella, who is a wildlife management expert, says you can take two important steps to help the species:

  1. Ensure you put water out for affected wildlife. Koalas are not the only animals affected by fire: birds, possums, gliders, wallabies are also victims and will likely be severely dehydrated.
  2. Support your local wildlife volunteers with donations or by notifying them if you see injured wildlife. When it is safe to do so, you can help your local wildlife volunteer group estimate the loss of wildlife in the area by conducting species counts (transects) in burnt areas. This is precious information to determine the effects of fire on koala numbers.

Thank you for your continued support to Dr Mella’s research. We hope to update you again soon.

 

Aiming higher - a new goal of $7000

January 10, 2018

Thank you for your generous donations to this project. We couldn't have done it without your support!

 

I'm excited to say that with your help the target of $5000 was reached with still a month to go, which is why we have decided to have a stretch goal of $7000 for the project.

 

Every dollar above the original target will be used to do even more for our koalas. Additional funding will further my study and assist in determining whether the supplementary water from the drinking stations impacts on the koalas feeding behaviour and energy intake. This data will be integral when assessing the overall effectiveness of water supplementation as a practical solution to safe-guard koalas against heat-stress. 

 

Please share with friends and colleagues who you know would be interested in supporting Australia's much loved native fauna. 

 

Thank you!

Levels
Choose a giving level

$5

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.

$10

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.

$20

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.

$50

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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