Video footage of the ‘Woolies Koala’ courtesy of wildlife photographer Sean O’Shea
Chris Dobney & Luis Feliu
A koala spotted up a gum tree opposite the Woolies supermarket in the Byron Bay CBD proved the toast of Melbourne Cup Day with visitors and shoppers alike.
Wildlife photographer Sean O’Shea was on hand to snap some photos of the koala while volunteers from Friends of the Koala were called to monitor the animal.
While the koala seemed in good health, the location – in the middle of a car park with busy Jonson Street to the front – had FoK worried about the chances of a car strike.
So koala rescuer Pat Barnidge and tree-climber Simon hatched a plan to relocate her.
When she spoke with Echonetdaily at 6pm, Pat said they had just caught the healthy juvenile and were in the process of deciding where to take her.
‘She’s fine. She’s a really young female about two years old, who has probably been frightened over here by a male. I’m just talking to the rescuers now about where to relocate her,’ she said in a brief phone call.
FoK president Lorraine Vass said it was a reminder to people who sight koalas, whether healthy or ill, to report them on the group’s website or (if they happen to live in Tweed or Byron) by contacting their local council’s Koala Connections representative.
The sighting follows by days a celebration of the success of the Tweed Byron Koala Connections project.
The project has been declared the 2014 Natural Environment Sustainability Award Winner at the recent NSW government’s Green Globe Awards.
Launched in early 2013, the Koala Connections project is halfway through its four-year program, and has already provided more than 40,000 trees and over 60 ha of regenerated habitat across Tweed and Byron coastal areas.
Tweed Shire and Byron Shire Councils are working together on the Koala Connections project, which is being funded principally by a $2 million grant from the federal government’s Clean Energy Future Biodiversity Fund.
It also follows a recommendation last week by the independent NSW Scientific Committee to list the dwindling Tweed and Byron koalas as an ‘endangered population’.
More photos by Sean O’Shea below: