Environment

Kangaroo Island’s rescued koalas thrive, with new joeys signalling success at Warrawong Wildlife Sanctuary

Rescued Kangaroo Island koalas are flourishing and breeding at Warrawong Wildlife Sanctuary, thanks to dedicated care and unique partnerships like the one with SA Water for sustainable feeding solutions.

Koalas rescued from the Tasmanian Blue Gum Plantations on Kangaroo Island are breeding successfully at Warrawong Wildlife Sanctuary. The sanctuary has announced the breeding of five koala joeys this year, an encouraging development for this at-risk species. The young are already beginning to explore their surroundings, although they continue to seek refuge in the warmth of their mothers’ pouches.

David Cobbold, the owner of Warrawong, shared his commitment to wildlife conservation. “It’s an honour to be in a position to help Australia’s most iconic animal. Whether land clearing, cars, or feral animals, Australian animals are under threat. It really doesn’t take much to make a positive contribution,” he said. Cobbold highlighted the importance of public support in conservation efforts, stating, “Everyone who visits the Sanctuary is contributing to saving Australian animals. Take a look at the joeys. That’s what public support looks like.”

The welfare of koalas at the sanctuary is supported by donations to the Warrawong Sanctuary Foundation. This charity ensures that nearly all collected funds directly benefit animal husbandry and welfare. Administrative costs are covered by volunteers, making donations to the foundation tax deductible.

One notable success story is Hoagie, one of ten koalas that were transported to Warrawong in 2021 as part of a breeding initiative to ensure their long-term survival. These koalas have been thriving on a diet of Tasmanian Blue Gum leaves sourced from Mount Bold Reservoir Reserve, as part of a collaboration between SA Water and Warrawong Wildlife Sanctuary. This partnership has been essential in providing a consistent food source, particularly after the difficulty in sourcing the right type of eucalyptus.

Before securing this source, Cobbold and his team faced significant challenges. “I happened to drive past the Mount Bold Reservoir Reserve and noticed an abundance of the silvery blue Tasmanian Blue Gum growing there,” Cobbold recalled. Realising the potential, he quickly set up a mutually beneficial arrangement with SA Water, where harvesting the non-native plants also aided in weed control at the reserve.

Damian Stam, SA Water’s Senior Land and Fire Management Officer, described the challenges posed by the quick-spreading Tasmanian Blue Gum following the Cherry Gardens Bushfire. “If these plants aren’t managed, they can out-compete native vegetation, including threatened species,” he explained. The agreement with Warrawong allows for regular harvesting of the blue gums, which supports both ecological management and koala welfare.

Aside from its role in wildlife conservation, Warrawong Wildlife Sanctuary is recognised for its substantial ecological contributions. Founded in 1969 by Dr John Wamsley, the sanctuary was the first of its kind to install a feral-proof fence, setting a pioneering precedent in native wildlife protection. The sanctuary, now managed by Narelle and David Cobbold, remains a thriving ecosystem, housing a diverse range of native species, from koalas to the elusive platypus.

Visitors are encouraged to engage with the sanctuary through numerous activities, including animal encounters, guided tours, and overnight camps. Warrawong Wildlife Sanctuary offers a unique opportunity to experience and support Australian wildlife in a natural setting.

For more info head to https://www.warrawongws.com.au/

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