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Koalas move states in conservation effort

A group of male koalas from Victoria’s Strzelecki Ranges will be brought to Adelaide as part of a new breeding program aimed at securing the survival of the species.

The koalas are expected to arrive in coming weeks to join a group of disease-free male and female koalas at the Cleland Wildlife Park in the Adelaide Hills.

The Cleland population, including some koalas rescued from the 2020 Kangaroo Island bushfires, is considered to be the only sanctuary-managed colony free from both chlamydia and koala retrovirus in Australia.

Environment Minister David Speirs says the transfer of the koalas is part of a bold conservation initiative that will help secure the survival of the species.

“Catastrophic events like last year’s bushfires across Australia significantly reduced koala numbers,” he said.

“That’s why this unique breeding program, which will include the addition of the Strzelecki koalas, will help to safeguard populations and provide opportunities for research as a priority for the species’ long-term survival.”

The Victorian koalas are being taken from a private forest plantation after assurances from wildlife authorities their removal was in the interests of conservation.

Koala Life, an independent not-for-profit organisation set up for the conservation and research of koala diseases, said the relocation would increase the number of disease-free genetically diverse animals, which would ultimately help to protect the species from future challenges.

“It’s also an important step in our scientific breeding program and significantly assists our research into the species,” chief executive Chris Daniels said.

“These koalas will form part of a breeding program that can support the long-term conservation of the species, particularly in response to natural disasters.”

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