Key threats for koalas on the Mornington Peninsula
Our small population of koalas on the Mornington Peninsula is in trouble.
One of the main reasons is habitat loss, due to land clearing and urban development. We only have 18% of native vegetation left on the peninsula and koalas rely solely on leaf from gum trees for food.
A recent study has found 69% of koala habitat is on private property and patches of native vegetation are now not connected well enough for our wildlife to move safely across the landscape.
Habitat fragmentation and the clearing of native vegetation including the removal of gum trees, is the key reason for wildlife decline on the Peninsula.
Additional threats to koalas
- CLIMATE CHANGE – Koalas appear to be drinking much more water than they used to. It is believed their newfound thirst is because the leaves that used to keep them hydrated are drying out as our climate gets hotter and drier.
- VEHICLE STRIKES – Koalas need to come to ground to move between the trees within their habitat. On ground movement across roads put koalas at a greater risk of being hit by cars, particularly at night.
- ATTACKS BY DOGS, CATTLE AND HORSES – Between July and November, adult koalas will be moving around in search of mates, making them more vulnerable to dog attacks. Cattle and horses often attack koalas forced onto the ground because of excessive tree-clearing. If the koalas’ habitat was better connected, they would not be forced to walk across paddocks and properties searching for new habitat.
- STRESS and DISEASE such as Chlamydia. Chlamydia causes conjunctivitis (which can lead to blindness), urinary tract infections and infections of the reproductive organs that can lead to female infertility.For tips on how to recognise a sick Koala, see the Friends of the Koala website:
- UNFRIENDLY FENCING (particularly barbed wire) will stop koalas from moving freely between habitats. Refer the wildlife friendly fencing website: http://wildlifefriendlyfencing.om/WFF/Home.html
- BUSHFIRES – Koalas are also at great risk from bushfires. A bushfire will destroy the under story and a hot fire will burn the canopy. The koala’s territory is often no longer able to sustain them due to lack of food and shelter, and a forest can take up to 10 years to recover from a major burn.
How you can help
- PRESERVE & PLANT NATIVE TREES – Plant koala food trees (especially Manna, Swamp and Narrow Leaved Peppermint Gums) on your property, at school, along fences and waterways to help increase and connect their habitats. Where possible, preserve native trees and other areas of bush that connect koala habitat in your area. Refer our Trees&Habitat Page for the koala’s preferred trees and local nurseries on the Mornington Peninsula.
- REPORT KOALA SIGHTINGS – Notify us of any koala sightings via Facebook, email or our Koala Sightings page.
- BE ALERT WHEN DRIVING – Koalas are hard to see on the road so drive slowly whenever you are driving through koala habitat. Scan the roadsides for koalas (and other wildlife) and keep the number of a local wildlife rescue group with you in the car or on your mobile phone in case you find an injured koala or other native animal. Refer to our list of local wildlife rescue groups below.
- KEEP YOUR DOG UNDER CONTROL (especially at night) – Most koala attacks occur at night, so limiting your dog’s movements at this time will help to reduce any likelihood of it chasing or catching a koala. If possible, keep your dog inside or in an enclosed area at night and check your yard before leaving your dog unsupervised.
- WILDLIFE-FRIENDLY FENCING – If a fence is necessary, build a koala friendly fence. A koala friendly fence is one that koalas can easily climb over, through, or under, allowing them to move freely around their habitat. The most common types of koala friendly fencing include post and rails and post and wire (no barbed wire).