The eastern grey kangaroo (Macropus giganteus) is one of the most well-known animals in Australia. With a range across eastern Australia, they are a species that has been historically abundant. Despite this, due to habitat loss and urban growth, populations of kangaroos have declined in the South East Queensland (SEQ) region.
The SEQ eastern grey kangaroo conservation research project at the University of the Sunshine Coast was launched in 2014 in an effort to understand the current status of kangaroos across the SEQ region. This research, supported by Sunshine Coast Council, includes case studies of kangaroo populations throughout the region and a community questionnaire allowing local residents to share their local knowledge. We received 519 responses to the questionnaire, including 186 from Sunshine Coast residents, many of whom were Land for Wildlife members.
The results of the questionnaire showed 40% of kangaroo populations identified have declined on the Sunshine Coast since 2000 (PDF, 198KB). Kangaroos have disappeared altogether from 18 locations across the Sunshine Coast. The suburbs of Buderim, Caloundra, Coolum, Landsborough, Little Mountain, Meridan Plains, Maroochy River, Mooloolah, Sippy Downs and Yandina have all experienced significant declines in kangaroo numbers. Most kangaroo mobs on the Sunshine Coast contain between 5 and 10 kangaroos however some larger mobs do still occur, particularly in the Twin waters, Pelican Waters, Beerwah, Bells Reach and Caloundra South areas that are all undergoing urban expansion. Many residents expressed their concerns for the future of kangaroos in the region and reported kangaroos being displaced by clearing of bush and hit by cars. Eastern grey kangaroos are not only an important part of the natural landscape and a major attraction for international tourists on the Sunshine Coast, but they are also a distinct genetic clade from other east coast kangaroo populations. There is a strong need for management of kangaroo habitat loss and road collisions to conserve our local kangaroos.
Our research includes an ongoing case study of the kangaroo mob at the USC campus in Sippy Downs. The kangaroo mob that lives on the campus and surrounding lands has gone from around 90 kangaroos in 2010 to only 10 kangaroos at the present time. Our research shows that this is mostly due to kangaroos being hit by cars. The kangaroo population in Sippy Downs is at risk of local extinction if kangaroo - vehicle collisions are not stopped and is a sad example of what is happening to kangaroos in many areas of the Sunshine Coast. On the USC campus several strategies have been put in place to reduce kangaroo collisions in an effort to save our iconic local mob. These include installing road signage, speed bumps and an awareness campaign on campus. We are also calling on local residents to play their part by driving slowly and carefully on and around the Sippy Downs USC campus and schools.
We can all play our part in kangaroo conservation across the coast by driving carefully in areas where kangaroos are present, particularly at dusk and dawn, reporting injured kangaroos and spreading the word amongst friends and family about the plight of our local mob. For more information on this project: www.usc.edu.au/kangaroo-research or contact Beth Brunton at [email protected].
Author and Images by Beth Brunton, PHD Candidate, University of the Sunshine Coast