In a rare sighting, a koala has been spotted in a Far South Coast forest.
Contractors with the Office of Environment and Heritage Mark Lems and Rob Summers were surveying an area of the Wapengo Creek catchment off Smiths Rd on August 18 looking for evidence of koalas in the form of scats.
Around midday, they saw the real thing up a tree.
While Mr Lems has seen plenty of koala scats in the area, it was the first time he had seen one of the animals in the Bega Valley during his involvement in the survey program. Due to his personal investment in the search for evidence of the marsupials, when he saw the koala he “just felt joy”.
“He looked like he was sun baking, his chest was exposed to the sun and he was facing north,” Mr Lems said.
Mr Summers thought it was the fourth sighting of such an animal by the survey teams, who have been running a third lot of surveys from Bermagui to the Bega River in addition to ones in 2007-09 and 2012-13.
“It’s exciting, it confirms the koalas are there,” he said.
He said the results from the first two lots of surveys showed the local koala population was increasing.
The koala was in one of the areas the state government converted from state forest to flora reserve in March this year, in a move partially made to protect the habitat of the last population of koalas on the Far South Coast.
Mr Lems, who has lived in an area adjacent to what was the Mumbulla State Forest for 25 years, said logging in the area had not been as vigorous as in other areas of state forest so the koala population had not been “hammered” too much.
“Hopefully the flora reserves will give the koalas a chance to build on the population that they have,” he said.
He said koalas had also been reported to have been seen near Bermagui, Gillards Beach and Doctor George Mountain.
Several days after the initial sighting, photographer and filmmaker David Gallan returned to the area to look for the koala and recorded footage of the creature.
To view the footage, visit www.vimeo.com/180304005.