Koala joey returns: About Koala Kallama

3 year old adult male koala You Yangs 2023

by Janine Duffy

In September 2023, I met a big, healthy young male koala in Branding Yard area of the You Yangs. He was fairly calm, and relaxed almost straight away – almost like he knew me. And it turns out, he did. He was Kallama, all grown up from a joey.

Kallama was born in December 2019, the third son of Ngardang.

Ngardang is our most frequently-seen koala, and she’s pretty relaxed with us. But Kallama was born just before COVID put a halt to our regular visits. So as an infant, he hardly saw any people. But when he did, the calm reaction of his mother would have helped him understand that we were not too scary. 

tiny joey koala on mother's lap
Our first sighting of Kallama in June 2020. He was still mostly in the pouch.

His father is probably Gulkurguli, our big proud dominant male.  So Kallama is like a prince, son of Koala Royalty.

His name means everywhere in Wathaurong/Wadawurrung. I chose it because that’s where I want koalas to be: everywhere they should be.

Kallama was a bit of a mummy’s boy. He was first seen in a different tree from his mum when he was 11 months old – some joeys are completely independent by that age. Then after that he went back to mum for a week. Then he was seen a few times on his own, before being found right near his mother again in December.

Koala big joey still with mother
Kallama, still on mum’s back at 11 months old!

We saw him a few times on his own in January 2021, then to our amazement he was back sharing a tree with his mother again in February! By this time he was at least 14 months old.

Kallama stayed in his mother’s home range until April 2021, when he would have been 16 months old. We were shocked that his father Gulkurguli didn’t make him move on. We were sad to see him go – the last time we shared so much of a young male’s life was Clancy, who stayed with his mother until he was 20 months, and then moved to his own home range not far away from his mum.

So when we saw Kallama again in September 2023, after an absence of 2.5 years, we were really thrilled. He looked very different! He had grown into a big male, with a lot of his father’s power. But his sweet face, and blond hair is more like his mother.

Who do you think he takes after more, mum Ngardang or dad Gulkurguli?

Koala family comparison: son, mother, father

How can we tell it’s him? Well, Kallama has a very distinctive nose pattern. The white markings in his nostrils are different to every other koala we’ve ever seen, and they were really obvious when he was a joey.

koala joey 11 months old
Koala joey Kallama with Ngardang in November 2020

If you see a wild koala in the You Yangs please:

  • Stay 10 metres away from the tree,
  • Keep dogs on leads and 100metres away,
  • Don’t try to touch the koala or the tree

Read our guidelines on viewing koalas responsibly here.

If you can, take a picture especially of the nose, and send it to me! I might be able to identify her/him for you: president@koalaclancyfoundation.org.au

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