Ask a student what they may be looking forward to in their time at Griffith University's Nathan campus and there’s a chance they may say ‘koalas’!
It’s estimated there are around 30 koalas in the forest surrounding the campus and sightings are routine in 2019.
But when one of Australia’s leading urban ecologists arrived Professor Darryl Jones arrived at Griffith in the 1980’s, koalas were nowhere to be seen let alone enjoyed.
That changed around a decade ago. The koalas began reappearing, and where they have come from is somewhat of a mystery.
Griffith researchers have tested koala faeces from the forest and found that the animals aren’t part of the same family. The best explanation is that wildlife carers have been dropping off rehabilitated animals into the forest.
They’ve chosen well; the koalas appear to be thriving. They love chewing the leaves in the tallowwood trees, and the shady cheese trees in the cool gullies are perfect for hot days.
Professor Jones says Toohey Forest is an ecological island in suburbia. It provides koalas and other wildlife food, water and habitat to eke out a living just 10 kilometres south of the Brisbane CBD.
“We’ve done a fair bit of looking at this: We know what koalas like to eat, so we have spent a lot of time making sure that there’s those sorts of trees here,” he said. “Thankfully, it’s absolutely ideal habitat for koalas.”