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A year on from Black Summer fires, drones enlisted to help save koalas


Because spotting is slow and expensive, estimates of koala populations vary wildly.
Photo: 123RF
As a result, it's difficult for scientists and conservationists to know just how many koalas are out there.
In New South Wales the population could be around 36,000, but last year's NSW parliamentary inquiry heard those figures are "outdated and unreliable" and the real number could be half that.
The same inquiry recommended exploring the use of drones to gain a more accurate head-count.
Happily, researchers from the University of Newcastle were already testing drones in collaboration with the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.
Their study, published in the journal

Koalas drink water by licking wet trees, scientists discover

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Koalas drink water by licking moisture that is running down trees, scientists have discovered, a finding they say “significantly alters” our understanding of the much-loved but enigmatic animal.
It had been thought the tree-dwelling marsupial absorbed most of its fluids from chomping on juicy leaves in Australia’s eucalyptus forests.
But researchers from the University of Sydney have now documented koalas’ drinking behaviour in the wild for the first time. In a study published in the journal
Ecology, they describe how the marsupials slurp up water running down smooth tree trunks during rain.
“For a long time, we thought koalas didn’t need to drink much at all because they gained the majority of the water they need to survive in the gum leaves they feed on,” said Valentina Mella, a postdoctoral research associate at the university’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences.

Photos of the Week: Giant Boar, Ice Music, Patagonian Glacier

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An injured horse covered with volcanic ash falls to the ground after being rescued by residents near the erupting Taal Volcano, in Talisay, Batangas, Philippines, on January 16, 2020.
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A contestant riding a tractor pulls a float featuring a giant boar as the procession takes over the streets of Chernivtsi during the Malanka Fest folk festival that celebrates Old New Year (marked on January 13), in Ukraine.
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Markiian Lyseiko / Ukrinform / Barcroft Media / Getty
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Several members of the Vial Education Program dressed in zebra costumes perform in a street in La Paz, Bolivia, on January 10, 2020.
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A woman walks past a mural depicting a firefighting koala as the city suffers hazardous air quality on January 14, 2020, in Melbourne, Australia.

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