|Koalas||Program||Image Library||Smiths Creek Reserve|
In Mac's Koala Club of the 25th October, 2000 Dr Robert Close and Steven Ward
reported, "Other calls this week have been to report Shirley's independent cub,
Frank, who left his mum last Februaury and who has now turned up in Smiths Creek
Reserve. He appears to be in glowing good health, but of course, is at risk from
dogs and cars."
A fortnight later in the same column, they said, " Our biggest surprise, however was to receive a call from Melanie Beattle, a former University of Western Sydney (Macarthur) student now teaching at Leumeah High School.
Melanie reported a koala up a tree in the school's agricultural area. We arrived to find a sleepy-looking fellow high in a red gum. (Eucalyptus tereiticornis) Its ear tags identified it as Frank, Shirley's son from 1998. Frank had left Shirley at Kentlyn in February last year and was recently sighted in Smiths Creek.
His total journey is now 4 km and we suspect that he'll move much further before he's big enough to fight his way into a piece of bush with a resident female koala.
We were faced with the difficult choice of moving Frank to a safer location, or allowing him to plot his own course.
Most of the students we spoke to were thrilled to have a koala on site and wanted us to leave Frank there. Others were worried that people might torment him if we left him at the school.
In the end we decided to leave him at the school knowing that students and the community would take an interest and pride in Frank and his movements.
Like other mobile young koalas, he's sure to have some interesting experiences as he grows from 5kg to 11kg."
In the following week's column, the researchers had this to say, " Last week we reported that Frank, son of Shirley the koala from Kentlyn, had wandered across eastern Campbelltown and, to the delight of students, appeared in the agriculture area of Leumeah High School.
We've heard no news of him since then, so expect that he's continued his travels.
Young koalas leave their mother's territory when aged between one and two years and then wander for another two to three years until they grow big and cunning enough to find a suitable area (complete with females) for themselves.
When they leave their mothers they weigh about 5kg and when big enough to defend a territory they weigh 10 kg.
In those years of wandering and growing they learn how to cope with dogs and traffic, how to avoid predators and other dangers.
Of course many young koalas die in the process and that's why the animals reported to us as road-kills or dog-kills are usually young males."
Let's hope Frank is a survivor !
If you do see a koala, remember to phone the hotline on 9962 9996, so it can be identified and tracked.