Overabundant koalas in South Australia prompt fertility program and call for culling in 2019

Koalas in the Adelaide Hills and Mount Lofty Rangers were targeted with a fertility program in 2019.
Image courtesy Brett Jarrett

A koala fertility program in the Adelaide Hills and Mount Lofty Ranges and a cull proposed for Kangaroo Island were responses in 2019 to South Australia’s booming population of koalas, while to World Wildlife Fund pushed for it to be listed as an endangered species on Australia’s east coast.

Surveys found about 150,000 koalas in the Mount Lofty Ranges and Adelaide Hills, and 27,000 on Kangaroo Island. This is having severe effects in overbrowsing.

Natural Resources Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges agency reported 13 koalas per hectare in one area of manna gum woodland in the central hills against an optimal number of around one per hectare. This made the koala population one of the greatest food threats to the koala population in parts of the Mount Lofty Ranges. Under the fertility program started in 2019, trained staff captured a set amount of koalas one at a time, administered hormone implant within 10 minutes, and released them.

This followed a program on Kangaroo Island operating for more than 20 years. But the state’s natural resources committee in 2019 told a South Australian parliamentary inquiry that koala numbers on Kangaroo Island needed to be culled.

Koalas were introduced to Kangaroo Island in 1920 as part of a plan to stop the endangered species from becoming extinct on the Australian mainland. The marsupial population flourished. Different management techniques have been introduced to control or accommodate koalas, including planting manna gums that they eat.

A koala cull was previously suggested for Kangaroo Island but the idea was dumped after it created community uproar. Koalas are listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. The natural resources committee recommended the state’s environment minister assume the power to declare koalas and other certain species as overabundant, with councils given the jurisdiction to cull them.

Other related ADELAIDEAZ articles

Rabbits released on Dutton estate in 1850s turn to billions; dented by disease control

In 1857-58, Alexander Buchanan, overseer for Frederick Dutton’s Anlaby pastoral estate near Kapunda, released rabbits for hunting. The rabbit population stayed stable until 1866 but was out of control in the next year. In 1995, government experiments with the rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus on Wardang Island, near Yorke Peninsula, saw it unintentionally taken to the mainland by flies. Luckily, the virus cut rabbits by 60% without affecting native species. In 2017, rabbit numbers fell by 48% after a new virus was released by Biosecurity SA.

Adelaide bird sanctuary at southern end of great global east Asian- Australasian flight path

A 60-kilometre stretch of northern suburban coastline – Adelaide international bird sanctuary, with abundant estuarine mudflats – is the southern end of the east Asian-Australasian flyway, one of the world’s three great migratory bird flight paths. With at least 52 shorebird species recorded, including 37 migratory summer visitors, the bird sanctuary is important globally. Around 15,000 shorebirds gather at Adelaide sanctuary for up to six months yearly before their return journey to breeding grounds in places like China and Siberia. This includes incredible aviators like the eastern curlew, bar-tailed godwit and great knot. Adelaide sanctuary is a key feeding and roosting site for migratory birds from as far as Siberia and Alaska, passing through 22 countries. It is part of an international network of wetlands, such as Mai Po Nature Reserve in northern Hong Kong, bordering the Chinese city of Shenzhen. One of South Australia's longest continuous conservation areas, Adelaide bird sanctuary is home to 263 fauna and flora species, including significant Australian birds such as the elegant parrot and Gulf St Vincent slender-billed thornbill. Within the sanctuary sits the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary National Park or Winaityinaityi Pangkara. In 2017, with donors’ support, The Nature Conservancy Australia helped secure the national park from 85 hectares of saltfields of the much larger area previously used to produce salt from saline ponds. This ended in 2013 when ICI’s Penrice soda ash factory closed at Osborne, opening the chance to recover coastal habitat loss but with a costly remedy challenge. 


Monarto revives the zoo's links with rhinos going back to arrival of Mr Rhini in 1886

Monarto Zoo is working in a world first with The Australian Rhino Project to move 80 endangered southern white rhinoceros to Australia to safeguard the species from the poaching crisis in Africa. Potentially Monarto Zoo could become home to around 30 rhinos from Africa, starting in 2018 when a female calf, Imani, from mother Umqali, joined five others born at Monarto. But Adelaide Zoo’s experience with rhinos goes back to its beginnings when its first director R.E. Minchin paid £66 and brought Mr Rhini from Borneo in 1886 as the only rhinoceros in Australia. Mr Rhini, who died in 1907, was mistaken for an Indian rhino, until this was corrected by a professor at the South Australian Museum where the animal is now displayed. The zoo’s 21st Century rhino program started when the first white rhino Uhara arrived in 2000 from Singapore Zoo on a long-term breeding loan. The dominant breeding bull Satara and another female Umquali arrived at Monarto Zoo in 2002 from Kruger National Park in South Africa. Zoos SA will have a 500-hectare enclosure for the white rhinos coming to Monarto's 1,500 hectares. 


Green City Plan to add 1000 trees and 100,000 square metres of green area to CBD by 2020

A Green City Plan developed by the Adelaide City Council in 2017 includes adding 1000 trees and 100,000 square metres of green area around the CBD by 2020. The council’s $200,000 Green City grant program includes up to $10,000 for businesses and private homeowners with initiatives such as living walls, green facades as well as vertical and verge gardens. One of the successful first-round applicants was Jack Greens on James Place. Greening Australia also has been involved in an Adelaide Green Cities project. It has been working with partners to set up a carbon sequestration demonstration site next to Adelaide High School of West Terrace to help visitors and residents gain a better understanding of carbon offsets.

Little penguins' fragile recovery on South Australia's Granite Island faces night hit

Little penguins on Granite Island, off Victor Harbor, south of Adelaide, had their fragile recovery from going extinct threatened in 2019. Experts were calling for the South Australian nature reserve and tourist attraction to be closed to the public at night to protect little penguins from dogs, people shining bright lights into burrows and trampling nest habitats.  The penguins declined rapidly on Fleurieu Peninsula from 2000. Their numbers also have dwindled on Kangaroo Island. But, for the first time in nearly two decades, numbers on Granite Island has almost doubled from 20 in 2012 to 44 birds in 2018. Little penguins are the smallest penguin species and are only found in southern Australia and New Zealand. Unlike on Penguin Island in Western Australia and on Tasmania's north coast, where access to the little penguins is controlled, Granite Island is open from Victor Harbor along a 600-metre wooden causeway, operating for 150 years. This ageing causeway was also due to be replaced from 2019 – another reason for concern about the effect on the penguins. While signs on the causeway prohibiti people from riding bikes and taking dogs to the island, there are no signs at the entrance mentioning little penguins or warning against using bright lights or how best to protect the birds. Stephen Hedges, who has run penguin tours on Granite Island for more than 20 years and monitored the birds as a citizen scientist for seven years, there could be a decline in little penguin numbers very quickly if more wasn't done to protect them. The penguins only had two offspring a year and only if conditions were perfect.

J.M. Black's 'Flora of South Australia' an indispensable work in 1920s by gifted amateur

John McConnell Black published The Flora of South Australia, with his own line drawings, in 1922-29, after decades working in South Australian journalism. Born in Scotland, his education included Taunton’s College School (training ground for many natural scientists) and a commercial trade school in Dresden, Germany. He worked in banking before migrating in 1877 to South Australia with his widowed mother, sister and brother. Unable to find bank work in Adelaide, Black in 1878 tried wheat farming in saltbush country at Baroota, where he started his interest in arid-zone flora and Aboriginal languages. In 1883, he returned to the city and joined the Register newspaper, rising to senior reporter, and later editorialist on The Advertiser, also working as a Hansard reporter until 74. A linguist, he often used Arabic, French, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish (as well as shorthand) in his notebooks and diaries. He published three papers in 1915-20 on Aboriginal vocabularies. A legacy from his mother enabled Black to retire in 1903 and tour South America and Europe. On return, he concentrated on botany, noticing alien weeds, grasses and garden-escape plants near Australian towns were rarely recorded. In 1914, with another legacy from sister Helen, he worked on indigenous flora. The Flora of South Australia, in four parts, included 2,430 species, indigenous and naturalised. Black took on revising his book, aged 84. He worked for 12 years, publishing part 1 in 1943, part 2 in 1948; part 3 was nearing completion at his death. He was widely honoured for his gifted amateur work. 

Contact Us

We welcome positive constructive feedback