Upcoming Lone Pine Sanctuary Research Centre in Fig Tree Pocket To Help Save Koalas

Located in Fig Tree Pocket, the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is the biggest and oldest koala sanctuary in the world. Inside the sanctuary is an abundant community of koalas, kangaroos, Tasmanian devils, wombats, various reptiles, and other species. To support the sanctuary, Lord Mayor Graham Quirk committed a $2-million koala research centre to be finished in June 2018.

The planned research station will be built on riverside land. It will be located at the general entrance to the sanctuary. The council will also help by contributing $1.3 million over four years to aid with the scientific research.

Plans are also underway to expedite the purchase of a 750-hectare, privately-owned koala habitat which will be used to plant more koala food trees for the sanctuary.

The Welfare of the Koalas

Mayor Quirk said that the concept behind the new research facility is to make it available to the public. With it, they hope to spread awareness on the life of koalas and how Australians can contribute to lengthen the koalas’ lives and boost their reproduction.

Some parts of the research centre will be open to the public to allow visitors to become more aware of the lives and the issues that koalas are facing now. In urban areas, koalas lead difficult lives due to the destruction of their natural habitat areas. There have also been reports of dog attacks and incidents of chlamydia, causing the deaths of the koalas.

The research centre also aims to bring together universities and other institutions to advance life-saving research about the species.


Koala Conservation

Concern for the lives of koalas is growing. Koala guru Ruth Lewis from Ipswich is among those who have taken action to protect the marsupial. Ms Lewis is happy and proud that her suburb is looking after the koalas really well. Based on a study by Dr Bill Ellis, Ipswich is one of the areas that still maintain a large and healthy population of koalas.

The aim of conservationists is to save the whole species by procuring large areas for conservation of koalas. Agreements were made with private land-owners and community partners for a more effective implementation of their move towards conservation.


Ending the Deadly Epidemic

A vaccine is also going through trial to stop the chlamydia epidemic that is killing Australia’s koalas. There is a huge number of koalas that have been reported dead due to the deadly disease over the last two decades.

Chlamydia is caused by chlamydia pecorum, which is a bacterium that spreads from livestock from Europe. Antibiotics work on the early stage of the disease, but these don’t see to be enough.

Peter Timms of the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland has been developing a single-injection chlamydia vaccine that can deliver long-lasting protection. They tested the vaccine on 21 free-ranging koalas in Queensland’s Moreton Bay region. Six had early-stage chlamydia, whilst the other 15 were already chlamydia-free. After six months, the chlamydia-free koalas were not infected, despite the fact that half of the koalas in their habitat were infected.

However, the vaccine wasn’t a success because after nine months, three of the 21 vaccinated koalas became infected. Nevertheless, it still slowed down the spread of the disease. Mr Timms remains motivated and plans to vaccinate 50 wild koalas in Petrie.

With the research centre’s impending 2018 opening in Fig Tree Pocket, more koalas in the area can enjoy a better quality of life soon.

Photo credit: CC-BY/Kim/Flickr