Koala-ty volunteers protect native animals

The Koala Clancy Foundation team at Little River (supplied)

Fatima Halloum

Koalas have a reputation for being lazy animals who spend their days sleeping and snacking on eucalyptus leaves.

Koala expert Janine Duffy thinks people would be surprised to learn otherwise.

“They’re so agile, no one thinks this, they think they’re like sloths,” she said.

“They’re incredibly strong and fast moving.”

Janine is the president of the Koala Clancy Foundation, an independent charity that advocates for protection of wild koalas.

In the last five years, the foundation has dedicated countless hours to planting trees in Little River, as the lack of vegetation in the area makes it difficult for koalas who use trees in the town as a way to travel between the You Yangs and Brisbane Ranges.

“The Little River is the only potential corridor for koalas to travel safely from the You Yangs to the Brisbane Ranges,” Ms Duffy said.

“But in places there’s hardly any trees left along the Little River.

“I’ve seen koalas crossing the open paddocks, and in the scattered trees near the Little River, looking for better habitat.

“In 2017 Koala Clancy Foundation set a target to plant koala trees along the entire length of the Little River, from just north of Little River township to Staughton Vale in the Brisbane Ranges.”

Volunteers have since planted 24,362 trees along the Little River, with another 10,800 expected this year.

“In 2021 we completed a huge 8000 tree project across the northern slopes of the You Yangs, linking to the Little River, with the support of an Environmental Sustainability Grant from the City of Greater Geelong,“ Ms Duffy said.

“This year we are planting another link, to the east, by the shortest route – The You Yangs Little River Koala Link.

“Community support has been overwhelming, with over $13,000 raised in just two weeks.

“Local clubs and businesses have also contributed, including the Rotary Club of Kardinia.”