Tracking Systems Show Koala Numbers In Decline
Koala Bear GPS Tracking
Australia has been one of the very few nations in the world that have kept unemployment low and the economy relatively strong in the midst of a global slowdown. The Aussie dollar continues to be strong against many other global currencies, and with vast natural resources such as gold and silver being mined this trend should only continue. Unfortunately, with a growing economy comes to some unique challenges. One of those challenges Australia is facing management practices that are leading to a direct decline in koala populations based upon new data gathered from GPS tracking systems.
What researchers at the University of Sydney did was conduct an experiment that monitored approximately 40 koala bears in the Gunnedah region using GPS tracking devices. The GPS trackers provide real-time tracking data showing the koala bears fed on eucalypts during the evening then escaped to find shelter from the hot temperatures during the day. The problem is that trees offering shaded protection from the brutal Australian heatwaves are being cut down in mass frequency, placing koala bears at an increased risk of dehydration or death from heat-related illness. The rise in temperatures combined with the loss of shaded trees that offer protection is something that is of great concern to researchers who monitor koala bear activity. In fact, a heat wave that struck Australia roughly 5 years ago killed nearly 25% of the koala bears being monitored by the University! This is very alarming, especially with data showing warmer weather will likely increase due to human activity.
A researcher for the University of Sydney explained that the best thing people can do to help koala bear populations is by maintaining or increasing the areas of shaded trees that offer protection from the sun for the animals. The researcher explained that large trees provide shade and a mixture of nutrient requirements that help the beloved animal in Australia survive. Simply put, koala bears are large animals that live and take shelter in trees so if land management regulations and deforestation remove those trees the impact will be koala bear populations on the decline.
The researcher will continue to use GPS systems and other tools to monitor koala bear activity to better gauge how human interaction is impacting the animal populations. Hopefully, lawmakers and land management officials will recognize certain activity is having a negative impact on the koala bears along with other animal species resulting in more environmentally friendly legislation.