By: Michael Fox

The team from B4C came today to refill our Tree Troff Koala drinkers so it was very exciting to find a Koala Mum and Joey in sitting on a branch above the drinker on Acacia Way.

There was also a Koala in the Queensland Blue Gum Eucalyptus tereticornis above the other Tree Troff at the junction of Federation and Geebung Tracks.

Koalas in Tallowwood Eucalyptus microcorys on Acacia Way

By: Michael Fox

Artist: Chrys O’Hare
Phil checking installation of water trough.

When leaf moisture is not high enough, this can lead to dehydration and large-scale mortality events as koalas are forced to search the ground for alternative water sources, exposing them to additional threats such as cars and dogs. Conditions in which koalas will need to search for water are only expected to increase in frequency due to climate change. (Watkins, A, Schlagloth, R. and Santamaria, F. (2021) Qld Naturalist 59 (1-3))

Koalas and other wildlife living in urban Island Habitats like Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve are particularly vulnerable as access to water requires crossing busy roads and facing dogs in backyards.

The Tree Troff Koala drinkers have been developed by a Gunnedah farmer working with researchers from University of Sydney and WIRES (Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service Inc.)

First version of Koala drinker

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Last year I spent an interesting morning with farmer Robert Frend of Wildsip who showed me the evolution of the Tree Troff starting with the very first drinker that was simply strapped to the tree.

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Early evolution of Koala drinker

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Supported by research with wildlife cameras observing Koala behaviour the drinker evolved through many versions trialling solar powered pumps and different platforms to finally arrive at an innovative designed, engineer certified and professionally built water for wildlife solution.

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Alan driving stakes to hold the Tree Troff in place.

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Our 2020 Koala Drinker Research Project demonstrated the value of providing water for wildlife, for example, six thousand visits by birds in six months. WIRES generous gift of two Tree Troffs and support from Bulimba Creek Catchment Coordinating Committee (B4C) providing refill services means we are able to create a long term water for wildlife solution for our Reserve.

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The first Tree Troff is installed in the Fox Gully Bushcare site at the junction of the Geebung and Federation Tracks. Bushcare team members Phil Girle and Alan Moore worked with me to assemble and erect the Tree Troff.

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Seton Ball Valve Lockout Devices

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The Tree Troff tank will be filled from ground level with high pressure pump which also allows the water trough to be flushed to clear leaves and mozzie larvae. Installation in a public space has required some modifications to reduce temptation to tamper. Seton Ball Valve Lockout Devices provide a simple way to lock the taps.

Cameras will be installed to monitor wildlife use to provide further evidence to support deployment of water for wildlife solutions in Brisbane parks and Bushcare sites.