Conserving Koala Country

Conserving Koala Country

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

'Beast' to be a movie star

On the 18th December, Cass, Vic and I headed back down to Cape Otway for some catching and to meet with a film crew from ABC Catalyst.  The crew had been on the road since early November, travelling from Perth to Melbourne to collect as much material as they could for episodes to be aired in early 2013 (see  They wanted to do a story on the overpopulation of koalas at Cape Otway, landholder views, and our research studying the issue.

I think we were all a bit nervous about being in front of the camera, and the fact that they wanted to film us catching a koala didn't help.  As some of you know, koalas aren't always the easiest animals to deal with and I've never been able to predict an 'easy' catch.  At first, I think the reporters wanted to be my catching team but thankfully, I was able to talk them out of that. So, just prior to their arrival, Cass, Vic and I searched for a koala that might be 'easy' to catch.  We really wanted a female to add to our sample of collared koalas.  We found a female with a joey in an isolated tree out in the paddock.  'Beast' was in the same tree and quite low, but given his size and usual mean temper, we decided to leave him alone. 

The crew were happy with our choice of filming location and koala 'talent'.  They loved 'Beast' with his grumpy look and battle-worn face and took loads of footage of him.  As for the catch.... our little mum and joey behaved beautifully. The only thing that would have made the catch more perfect was if they'd walked into the catching bag themselves.  The mum put up a fight once in the bag though which made the noose tricky to remove.  I ended up having to restrain her on the ground to get it off.  The mum was tiny although big enough to collar.  The joey was only about 700g so provided the 'cute' factor.

The crew was a bit disappointed that we wanted to work fast so as to reunite mum and joey, and release them quickly.  But, they were excited with the turning on of a collar (about 5 retakes of that) - there's something exciting about a machine that goes 'bing'; and happy to take footage of us looking into a catch bag and pretending it contained a koala.  After multiple retakes of us watching the koalas back in the tree, and some goofy comments about koala behaviour, rain forced us back to Bimbi Park.  I then was interviewed with my laptop opened so I could look 'scientific'. 

It was a looooooonnng day and we didn't get back to Melbourne until about 10pm.  My fingers are crossed that it comes out OK.  It will air sometime in March.  I'll post a blog when I have the exact details.

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