Cheeky, mischievous, and loveable, Blinky Bill is quintessentially Australian. For almost 100 years, tales of this native marsupial have delighted audiences the world over and forever forged the koala’s place in our hearts. 

Despite being an Aussie icon, in 2022 the conservation status of koalas was downgraded from vulnerable to endangered. Widespread habitat clearing required for urban sprawl across South East Queensland is thought to have contributed to 80 per cent of koala habitats being destroyed. Other threats include disease, bushfires, cars and unrestrained dogs.

Misty Neilson, an ecologist with the Burnett Catchment Care Association, is leading a citizen scientist project, funded by the Queensland Department of Environment and Science, aimed at raising awareness of regional koala populations and habitat health. 

“Despite the importance of koalas, very little information exists to understand wild populations and their habits in the Burnett Region. Knowing how many koalas remain, where and in what condition, is imperative if state and national recovery efforts are to be successful,” Misty said. 

The project simply asks people to record any koala sightings across the Bundaberg and Burnett regions.

“The data gathered by citizen scientists will inform the protection and enhancement of crucial koala habitats, population diversity and recovery efforts,” Misty said. 

“With more accurate population data, local government, communities and individual land managers can more effectively plan and manage habitat corridors, connectivity and re-vegetation efforts, that significantly contribute to the protection and recovery of this and other species facing similar challenges.”

Misty said in the past two years 144 incidental sightings had been submitted to the program, representing 55 per cent of all koala sightings recorded in the Burnett Region since 2000.

A Saving the Greater Glider project, funded by WIRES National Grant Program, is also underway. It is a grassroots community education and habitat protection and restoration project to help the recovery of this endangered species, the largest gliding marsupial in the world. Greater glider populations have decreased by 80 per cent over the past 20 years due to their specialist requirements for large hollow-bearing trees and relatively specialised dietary requirements.

Photos supplied by Ben Crowther.


Get involved. Email sightings with date, location and photo (if available) to [email protected], or submit via the Burnett Catchment Care Association facebook or Instagram page. For more information visit Betterburnett.com/burnett-koala-program/