Contributing to Koala conservation can be as simple as a walk in the bush with a smartphone thanks to a free GPS enabled smartphone app called Biotag.
The National Parks Association of New South Wales (NPA) in partnership with the Great Eastern Ranges Initiative is running The Great Koala Count this November 7th till the 17th and they are asking the public to get on board.
Koalas are found in coastal areas of eastern and southern Australia and while some areas have large populations more commonly Koalas are low in number and difficult to locate. Koala populations have declined significantly in NSW since Europeansettlement as disease, dog attacks, vehicle strikes and land clearing takes its toll.
“The Great Koala Count will enable people to contribute to Koala conservation by using smartphone technology to record information about Koalas in their local area over a set period,” says Dr Gráinne Cleary, Wildlife Ecologist with the NPA.
“The Count has two surveys – one for Koala sightings and one to record other common species sighted in the area if you don’t find Koalas. Knowing that no Koala sightings have been made in a survey area is as important as surveys that locate Koalas as it helps to build a more complete picture of koala distribution.” Dr Cleary added.
The long-term aim is to repeat the Count annually so that changes in populations and the effectiveness of conservation efforts along with the impact of events such as drought and fire can be monitored over time. The analysis of this monitoring can be used to inform decisions about future conservation effort.
The idea is based on Citizen Science whereby community sourced information contributes to existing data and science to build a more comprehensive picture.
“We are inviting everyone to become a Citizen Scientist and participate in the Count. Everyone has a role to play in the conservation of this iconic Aussie animal,” said Dr Cleary
To participate go to www.koalacount.org.au and register then download BioTag from Google Play or the App Store. From November the 7th to 17th get out into your local landscape and use the app to record where you see Koalas and where you don’t!
For more information go to www.koalacount.org.au
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