Ongoing dry weather in the South East is having as much of an effect on native wildlife as it is on our landscape.
The normally lush dairy paddocks and hills around Bega Valley are browned off and crackling underfoot after below average winter rainfall.
According to the Bureau of Meteorology's long-range forecast, below median rainfall is also likely to very likely (60% to greater than 80% chance) for most of Australia until October.
The conditions have seen one of our most vulnerable creatures descend from its treetop home in search of a drink.
In the Murrah Flora Reserve, south of Bermagui, a large male koala has been photographed drinking from an artificial water station on multiple occasions over several days.
In August 2019, Bermagui local Robert Bertram launched a GoFundMe campaign to assist in funding water stations to be installed at various locations in the Mumbulla section of the Murrah Flora Reserve.
Mr Bertram has been surveying and looking to protect koalas in the Murrah and surrounding forested areas for many years.
Water stations were installed at 10 different locations along with motion capture cameras to monitor the wildlife.
On July 31, then again on August 4 and 11, a koala was photographed at one of these stations.
"The koala, probably a male, visited and had several drinks over a few nights when 36 photos of it were taken," Mr Bertram said.
"With very little rain over the past few months and dieback starting to appear in the trees, a reduction in leaf water content is the likely reason for the koala drinking.
"The water station is one of a few in the Murrah catchment, although it's apparent that the home range of this koala extends into the adjacent Wapengo catchment," Mr Bertram said.
Koalas have a highly specialised diet made up of the leaves of certain species of eucalypts, as well as some flowers and stems.
Eucalypt leaves are high in fibre and have a high moisture content. They are very low in nutrition and toxic to many other animals.
According to the Australia Koala Foundation, a koala eats around 200 to 500 grams of leaves per day and water is absorbed from the gum leaves.
It means koalas rarely need to drink, although they can do so if necessary, such as in times of drought when the water content of the leaves is reduced.
In February 2022, koalas were reclassified as endangered in NSW, ACT and Queensland.
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