A joey and his mother cling to each other in the branches of a eucalypt.
A joey and his mother cling to each other in the branches of a eucalypt.

Phillip Island Nature Parks rangers at the Koala Conservation Reserve were recently delighted by a visit from a wild mother koala and her male joey - just in time for Wild Koala Day on 3 May.

The joey is estimated to be around 12 months old.

He is the first wild koala born on the island since 2007.

The pair were first spotted in January and had not been seen since.

'We have been hoping to see the mother and joey again and were delighted when it arrived in a gum tree near the Koala Conservation Reserve boundary,' Nature Parks Senior Environment Ranger Daniel Kallstrom said.

'He is still with his Mum, but I expect that she is starting to reduce their bond so he can become independent at around 18 months of age.

'This is special because we estimate there are less than 20 koalas left in the wild on Phillip Island because of habitat loss, the disease Chlamydia, being hit on the roads and predation.'

'Not native'

Koalas are not native to Phillip Island and were introduced in the late 1800s.

One of the main reasons for the decline in the population is the loss of habitat.

'The Koala Conservation Reserve protects a population of koalas and their habitat which also provides homes for a wide variety of wildlife including bats, birds, echidnas and insects,' Daniel said.

'It is fitting that the koala arrived close to Wild Koala Day [#wildkoaladay] as this is a day to celebrate wild koalas and protect their habitats.

'We can all help by to protect wild koalas and all wildlife by driving carefully on the island’s roads and planting native trees in our gardens.'

While koala populations in New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and Queensland are listed as vulnerable, that’s not the case in Victoria.

Scientists from the Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research (ARI) recently estimated there were more than 400,000 koalas across the state.

Reviewed 19 May 2021

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