What is the Koala Count?

Koala Count is a national citizen science survey developed by wildlife experts at the National Parks Association of NSW. Every year we engage with conservation enthusiasts from all walks of life around Australia to build a comprehensive picture of koala numbers and locations.

Why should I participate in the Koala Count (7-22 of November)?

Victoria and South Australia have large and thriving koala populations, however, koalas in Queensland and New South Wales are declining rapidly.

Population estimates for koalas around Australia are controversial, with some estimates disagreeing by as much as an order of magnitude.

In 2012, a panel of experts got together for a workshop to try and agree on best estimates (aggregated mean population estimates) for koala populations around Australia. They suggested the following: 78,000 koalas in Queensland (range of approximately 35,000–150,000); 36,350 (range approx. 20,000–75,000) in New South Wales/ACT; 182,504 (range approx. 75,000–325,000) in Victoria; and 33,320 (range approx. 19,000–52,000) in South Australia. Two things are clear from these numbers: firstly, there is still a lot of uncertainty around koala population estimates, and secondly, koala populations are under serious threat in Queensland and New South Wales/ACT.

Habitat degradation, road accidents, domestic dog attacks and disease appear to be the main drivers of koala decline, but new threats such as mining and climate change are also emerging.

Accurate species distribution data can be a powerful tool for conservation action. Annual data can be used to highlight Koala hotspots and detect areas where Koalas are absent or in decline. This abundance data can then be used as unequivocal evidence for why we need to do more to conserve koalas in some regions of Australia. So that's why we need your help counting koalas - good luck!

How do I record my Koala sightings?

Using a smartphone or digital camera.

Wowza, that koala moved fast! What do I do if I didn't get a photo?

We still want to hear about it! Please take a photo of the location, upload it as usual and tell us as much information as possible about the sighting. Even if the photo isn't good quality, and you didn't capture the koala at all, it'll still give us important location data.

If you didn't manage to take a photo with your smartphone or GPS enabled camera, just manually upload you sighting here. You will be asked to give you best guess of the location since you aren't uploading a GPS-enabled photo with your sighting.

What if I don't have a smart phone?

You can use a digital camera with GPS or enter your koala sightings into the NatureMapr website manually.

How can I tell if the koala is male or female?

This video of Amanda Sulley from the Cleland Wildlife Park gives some tips and tricks to help spot the differences between male and female koalas.

How can I tell if the koala is sick or injured?

This website by WildCare Australia has an excellent table with information on typical traits of sick or injured koalas.

Does the smartphone NatureMapr App work in rural or wilderness areas?

NatureMapr works using GPS much the same way as car navigation systems, which means that is not reliant on having access to network coverage. If you are out of mobile coverage when you record a sighting, NatureMapr will store the location and your sighting records. When you re-enter an area with reception, the new data will be uploaded automatically onto the data portal.

What if I don't see a koala?

Don’t panic! It’s still really important to record null-sightings on Naturemapr. Null-sightings can be used by conservation experts to explore how Koala populations in Australia are changing from year to year, and identify those factors that are responsible for koala decline. We need you to upload koala absent points at any time along your walk (we suggest halfway and at the end - but it is up to you!). Uploading a koala absent point will not impact on your findings if you end up finding a koala at another point on your walk.

Who can access the Koala Count results?

Anyone working in koala conservation will have access to the data gathered during the Koala Count, including academics, government bodies and koala welfare groups. The results from the Koala Count will be added to our 2013 and 2014 Count and will be publicly available on the Atlas of Living Australia. Any photos that you upload to the NatureMapr website will also be shared on facebook and twitter.

If you want to look at the results from previous Koala Counts, you can find them at the Atlas of Living Australia.

What do I do if I find a sick or injured Koala during the Koala Count?

If you find a sick or injured Koala, contact WIRES: they can also recommend to you other koala rescue organisations in your area that can help. Please also report the health of the koala when you upload your data and add more details in the description box if appropriate. If your data is better described via two individual data entries (i.e. you spot two koalas but one of them is sick and one is healthy) then please do so.

I want to take part, but I don’t know where to look. Are there any areas of particular interest to the NPA?

Have a look at the locations map to figure out areas that are still to be surveyed. Alternatively if you are looking for inspiration, have a look where citizen scientists counted koalas previously by looking at the Atlas of Living Australia.

We’re keen to know what’s happening on private property since these areas are generally harder to get access to.

We’re also interested in Southern QLD and Northern NSW because this region is where the NPA is campaigning to create a Great Koala National Park. Keep an eye on our facebook page where we’ll update areas of interested.

Is the NPA interested in Koala observations outside of 7-22nd Nov 2015?

All official recordings must be taken between these dates, but if you see something interesting any other time of the year then tell us about it.

How do I avoid avoid duplicating koala count sightings?

You may be wondering what happens if we get multiple sightings of the same animal by different citizen scientists - after all, counting the same individual time and time again could give unreasonably high koala estimates in that area.

Basically, we don't want you to worry about duplicate koala sightings because it's taken care of when we review the data. By looking at GPS coordinates and time of day that recordings are taken, we ensure that the same koala isn't counted twice.

The only exception is that if you have multiple people in your group are taking part in Koala Count, then only one person in your group needs to record the Koala you've spotted.

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