Koala found on Yourka Reserve

Leanne Hales
Published 12 Nov 2020 
about  Yourka Reserve  

Our healthy male Koala.<br/> Our healthy male Koala.
View through the thermal monocular.<br/> View through the thermal monocular.

Yourka Reserve is on the northernmost edge of the iconic Koala’s distribution, but we’ve never recorded a species confirmation… until we followed a late-night growl! 

After a spotlighting run at our Yourka Reserve in far north Queensland last month, some volunteers from Conservation Wildlife Management (CWN) reported hearing a distinctive call that they thought sounded like a Koala.

Their calls are pretty incredible – take a listen to a Koala call.

The next night, Yourka Reserve Manager Paul Hales returned to the spot they heard it and walked for about 2km or so up the creek line with a thermal monocular kindly loaned from CWM for the night.

Paul spotted three Brushtail Possums, a Rufous Bettong, a Greater Glider and a Spotted Nightjar, but no Koala.

He walked back to the car spotlighting with a normal white light handheld spotlight – still no Koala.

As he starts driving home, slowly and spotlighting along the way, he very quickly picked up some eyeshine at the base of a tree.

Initially, he thought it was a feral cat but the eyes were too far apart and they shone white-yellow, not the vivid white-blue of a cat.

Sure enough, it was a large healthy-looking male Koala!

The big bloke was found in the middle of the reserve amongst a large stand of Gum-topped Box or Grey Box (Eucalyptus moluccana) one of the stronger food plant preferences for koalas in the far north Queensland region.

We believe he's a Yourka resident, not a tourist, as their home range is around one to two hectares and Yourka spans 43,500 hectares!

Although we’re all very excited to finally see a koala at Yourka, we’re not totally surprised.

The reserve sits on the northernmost edge of the Koala’s distribution and there have been very irregular sightings of Koalas in the district over the decade that we’ve been managing the reserve. It’s likely there are others although they'll probably be in low numbers this far north.

When you listen to the call you have to think that it’s probably lucky that the two CWM volunteers who were out sitting on a track in the dark on a reserve far from anywhere were from south-east Queensland and recognised it for what it was.

Otherwise, the Yourka growler could have really put the wind up them!

Our healthy male Koala.<br/> Our healthy male Koala.
View through the thermal monocular.<br/> View through the thermal monocular.