In the Great Otway National Park in Victoria, Australia, koalas are widespread and relatively abundant. With the increasing impact of climate change on the environment, however, higher densities of koalas in some areas are causing declining tree conditions. Better understanding of the potential impact of climate change on koalas and their habitat will pave the way toward developing conservation solutions.
You’ll have a chance to work closely with koalas and be involved in all aspects of the research: capturing and handling koalas (under the supervision of an experienced staff member), radiotracking koalas, taking measurements of trees, assessing habitats, collecting scats and preparing them for analysis, operating camera traps that automatically take pictures of passing animals, and looking for koalas at night with spotlights.
With your participation, this study will contribute useful data to a longer-term consideration of climate change and variability issues, while also contributing to the conservation of koalas and their habitat and educating the local community.
Trips run 10 days, cost approximately $2950/person, and include cabin accommodation, meals, training and transfers.
What to Expect?
Most days begin with an early breakfast and packing lunch for a full day in the field. You’ll return to the cabins each day in the late afternoon, where you’ll help sort field equipment for the following day’s activities and assist with data entry. After dinner you’ll have free time unless the schedule calls for entering data or going out at night to find koalas with spotlights.
In the field, you’ll help:
• Spot and observe koalas. You and a teammate will hike through koala country and spot koalas in the wild. You'll then record their location and other details, including gender and the presence of young.
• Monitor koalas and other animals with camera traps. You will help set up and maintain camera traps, which automatically take photos of anything that moves in front of them. You'll also help download these photos and sort them to see which animals are out and about in the forest.
• Survey koala habitat. While hiking, you'll record the vegetation you see, as well as other animals present, such as birds.
Midway through the expedition, you’ll have a recreation day. You may choose to rest or take a nature walk at Bimbi Park, or the team could arrange a trip to the Twelve Apostles, Australia's famous coastal rock formations.
The koala is an iconic Australian species that attracts considerable public attention. The conservation status of the koala varies from secure in some areas to vulnerable or extinct in others. Climate change is likely to negatively impact koala populations, in part because of koalas’ low tolerance for prolonged hot weather, and in part because of the potential for more extreme and frequent bushfires.
Increasing temperatures, declining rainfall, and increased likelihood of fire are all threats facing koalas.
Higher densities of koalas in eucalyptus-dominated woodlands and, in some instances, concentrated browsing by koalas are causing a decline in tree condition and available food. Consequently, habitat change is occurring at a rapid rate, providing a unique opportunity to better understand the responses of koalas to a decline in food supply and habitat quality. In other words, today’s habitat change provides a lens through which it is possible to anticipate the potential impact of climate change on the species.
An understanding of the responses of koalas to environmental change is critical for conservation of their populations and habitats. This project is an opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge of koala behavior, numbers, and vulnerabilities—and, thus, a valuable tool for informing public policy decisions.
You’ll stay in cabins at the popular Bimbi Park, in the center of the Great Ocean Road. The park is sheltered among tall manna gum trees, far from the noise of towns and traffic, and offers great opportunities for spotting wildlife such as koalas, possums, kangaroos, echidnas, birds, and many more. Park facilities include a shop with basic groceries, an outdoor theater, a laundry, a pay phone, Internet access, and covered barbecue areas. The cabins are self-contained, with fully equipped kitchens and modern bathrooms.
In the morning, you’ll make your own continental breakfast and packed lunch. All team members will participate in cooking meals. The cabins have kitchens and dining areas that contribute to a fun, social atmosphere. Hearty evening meals will consist of meat, vegetables, pasta, and desserts.
- Program ID: # 1862
- duration: 1 to 2 Weeks
- location: Great Otway National Park Apollo Bay , VICAustralia38° 46' 23.9988" S, 143° 33' 27" EVictoria AU
- Fitness level: Moderately FitVery Fit
- Closest Airport: Tullamarine Airport (MEL)
- Costs From: $1500 to $3000Over $3000
- Program Type: Environmental & Wildlife Programs
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