A relative to the wombat and kangaroo, Australia’s koala is not related to bears. This cute marsupial mammal looks like a cuddly teddy bear, leading many people to refer to them as bears. The scientific name for koalas is Phasclarctos Cinereus. There are between 2,000 and 8,000 currently living in the wild. That is about 90 percent less than the koala population of just ten years ago. Much of this steep decline is due to the destruction of the koala’s natural habitat.
In the Southern Highlands, Australia, there are less than 200 of these iconic animals. This is why the New South Wales Government initiated the Southern Highlands Koala Conservation Project. It is a collaborative effort of the Foundation for National Parks and other agencies. They have fitted 20 koalas with GPS tracking collars to better understand their activities and feeding habits.
GPS tracking devices help endangered species
Researchers have been using GPS tracking to gather valuable information about different wildlife from great white sharks in the Atlantic to lions in Kenya to the Bengal tigers of Nepal. There is even a GPS solution for the big cats in your life. The animals are fitted with a GPS device and then set free to continue their normal routine. Scientists are able to monitor movement and habits of the animals without interfering with their daily lives. This provides information on everything from migration, feeding, and potential threats to the animal’s habitat.
The Southern Highlands Koala Conservation Project
Australia began this project after a large fire in the Yerrinbool-Balmoral area destroyed a significant portion of that area’s koala population in 2013. Many of the surviving koalas were forced to move into unfamiliar territory. The 20 koalas equipped with GPS tracking devices will help council members and land managers make land use decisions that will help ensure the long-term survival of local koalas.
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