Locals got the rare opportunity to see a young male koala in the Silverdale earlier this month.
Residents recently heard strange grunting noises, which they originally thought may have been an injured kangaroo’s, but soon realised the true source of the sounds.
Local resident, Michelle Allen, had kept a close eye on the koala since its sighting on February 9.
The koala’s existence was brought to my attention on February 15.
Ms Allen said there had always been talk of koalas in the area, and believed there were known colonies on the western side of Warragamba Dam.
After climbing the tree to assess the health of the koala, I confirmed that it was, in fact, a young male, approximately two to three years old and weighing roughly 2.5 to 3.5 kilograms.
The koala was solid and in great health.
He was unsure of my approach and came down the tree to inspect me.
I snapped some twigs to give him a little jolt, with the aim of testing his reflexes and physical attributes.
I was happy to note that his survival instinct, energy levels, response time, and general physical health were all great.
He showed a strong response to potential danger and appears to be quiet green in an urban environment.
He is testing his own limits and learning the ways of the wild, which includes navigating traffic and roads, avoiding dogs and cars as well as local crowds.
All of these experiences will allow him to mature into a robust adult male.
At first he hadn’t travelled far between February 9 and 15 but by the February 16 he had left, hopefully heading towards the Sydney Catchment area.
If anything, his arrival presents more questions than answers.
It is expected that his parents would be approximately 10-20 hectares away.
It is common for a young male to be pushed away from his parent’s home range, particularly as mothers can become aggressive toward their joey.
Rearing and raising a joey can be tiring work for a mother, as young males need a kick, to make their own way in life.
In addition to this, male joeys often reach an age where they may compete with their father and other males in their main core group of their home-ranger.
Jostling for a higher position in the hierarchy.
This behaviour also acts as a natural way to spread the gene pool, reducing the chances of inbreeding, which has become common as habitats become more fragmented.
The presence of this young male is a pleasant surprise, and residents should be grateful by how resilient koalas are, as they are determined, like any creatures to survive.
Now we know there is a young male out in Silverdale and there are at least three koalas in the area - which is three more than before.
If residents decide to keep an eye out for the young male koala, caution should be exercised.
Please do not approach too closely.
If you do approach him, ensure that you do not accidentally encourage him to run up an electricity pole, and if possible, divert him from this path.
If you notice him in distress or in a difficult situation, please first call triple 000, and then call myself, Marcus Zorich, from Koala Retreat, as I can work with emergency workers to handle and capture him and ensure that he is placed in a safe zone.
Marcus Zorich is a koala specialist who has decades of experience consulting with zoological bodies and providing koala management training and education as well as sourcing koala food on a professional level. He is based in the Mulgoa region.
For more information go to www.koalaretreat.com and join us, as start our weekly blogs, on the different ways in koala conservation.
Contact Marcus on 0419 956 723.