Imagine being deep in the heart of the Crowes Lookout forest, surrounded by the vibrant tapestry of nature. Amidst the heart of the forest and amongst the rustling leaves and chirping birds, something extraordinary is heard. A deep, echoing bellow that could only be one thing: a Koala’s call. But it wasn’t heard by us, the sound was picked up by one of our remote sound recorders.

Wilderlands Lead Ecologist Deanna Marshall listened carefully to the recordings and recognised the unmistakable call from a Koala. With her expertise, she explained the unique sounds of these marsupials to the team.

Male Koalas make an incredible deep bellowing and grunting, thanks to a special sound-producing organ not found in other land mammals. Both male and female Koalas can produce varied bellowing calls, but they are mainly used by males to attract mates. Koalas also make various sounds like snarls, squeaks, and even screams.

You can hear the unique Koala calls on the sound recording Wilderlands captured below, listen carefully and you can hear the noise in the background

Ignited by their excitement, the Wilderlands ecological team set out in Crowes Lookout to gather additional evidence to confirm the presence of Koalas.

The keen-eyed team uncovered more traces of Koalas throughout Crowes Lookout, as they found distinctive scat (droppings) and a decomposing skull on the forest floor. These findings and the sound recording confirmed that they have indeed set paws on a Wilderlands project.

Why is this a big deal?

It’s the first time we’ve documented Koalas in any of our Wilderlands projects.

It means we’re now responsible for monitoring and protecting these iconic Australians, and it reminds us of the key role remote monitoring plays in understanding the breadth of biodiversity in each ecosystem.

Like many of our native animals, the iconic Koala continues to face challenges to its survival.

Even though we have a relatively robust population of Koalas in the Otways, it is critical that we provide as much support as we can to protect the habitat that is remaining. Wilderlands are delighted to find Koalas utilising our protected areas.

Wilderlands Lead Ecologist, Deanna Marshall

Despite their resilience, they’re up against many threats, including habitat loss, wildfires, disease, road accidents and many other issues. Between 1990 and 2010, their numbers dropped by a third, and the devastating 2019-2020 bushfires knocked off another 70% on the North Coast.

It’s our collective responsibility to make sure they have a safe place to call home.

The announcement of The Great Koala National Park

Our discovery coincides with great news from the New South Wales government in creating The Great Koala National Park. This park is set to connect forests, making a massive 315,000-hectare Koala haven. Just recently the NSW government halted logging in the area to protect these precious creatures.

Environment Minister Penny Sharpe commented that the creation of the park is critical to Australia’s overall Koala protection strategy.

The park would become a biodiversity hotspot, allowing many threatened and endangered species to thrive, including the Yellow-Bellied Gliders, Greater Gliders, Powerful Owls, Sooty Owls, Masked Owls, Barking Owls and Glossy Black Cockatoos.

Using technology to protect biodiversity

Wilderlands uses new technologies such as remote sound recorders and cameras that are strategically placed across the projects to monitor species when we are not physically there.

Whilst in-person monitoring is key using concealed monitoring devices means we can detect actions and sounds without disturbing the species.

This technology works around the clock, using heat and motion sensors to spot animals and automatically capturing photos and videos when movement is sensed.

We cross reference these findings with the in-person surveys to create a more rounded understanding of each ecosystem.

Crowes Lookout

Koalas need vast areas of native habitat to roam, and the protected depths of luscious forestry within Crowes Lookout provide a safe haven to live freely without fear of threats.

Koalas are folivores, meaning they are a herbivore with a diet specialising in eating leaves that provide less energy than other foods and are often toxic. At Crowes Lookout, Koalas would feed on a range of Eucalyptus, including Blue Gum, Mountain Grey Gum and Messmate.

The thickness of the vegetation at Crowes Lookout, including tall trees, fern-rich gullies and mountains makes a sanctuary for many threatened species including the Otway Black Snail and the Rufous Bristlebird.

By supporting Crowes Lookout, you are actively contributing to the preservation of the Koala population, one square metre at a time.

Click the image above to learn more about Crowes Lookout.