Sweet female koala Goora

koala female with joey You Yangs

Goora is a lovely young female koala living in the eastern part of the You Yangs.

We first met Goora in May 2018, and she looked very young – maybe 2 or 3 years old. We only saw her twice that year. She was probably moving around a bit looking for a home range of her own.

Goora in 2018, a very young female.

Then in 2019 and 2020 we only saw her once each year. But 2020 was full of Covid lockdowns, so we didn’t do as much research that year.

In 2021 we again only saw her once, but this time she had a joey! This could have been her first joey. Then again, we saw her late in 2022, and she had another joey this time. It is quite normal for healthy young females to have one joey each year.

Goora female koala nose pattern
Sweet Goora showing her distinctive nose pattern.

In 2023 we’ve seen her three times already. This suggests that she is making our research area into her permanent home range.

She has another joey this year, which is her third at least. We’ve named this joey Biyal, which means River Red Gum in Wathaurong language. Goora means flower (specifically eucalyptus flower), and flowers produce seeds which grow into trees, so it is fitting.

Koala mother with joey You Yangs
Koala Goora’s third joey Biyal, seen in September 2023

She’s a good traveller, and has been seen right across the south-eastern part of the You Yangs. Most recently she was seen in an area that is part of Lakorra’s home range. Lakorra was close by, which makes us wonder – was Lakorra telling her to get lost out of her home? Or is Lakorra a relative, and simply curious?

The subject of female koala dominance is one that hasn’t been much studied – the only publications I can find that mention female social behaviour are the two listed below in references. But it would make sense for a female koala to defend a good quality habitat and keep it for herself and her offspring. Female koalas aren’t known to fight much, but some females do stay in the same home range all their lives and will be seen to share with only a couple of other females. We know the body language of koalas is very subtle – is it possible that female koalas are communicating dominance or aggression to each other and we can’t see it?

In this case, Goora was in the home range of Ngardang and her daughter Lakorra. Ngardang has ‘owned’ that 10 hectares since about 2016. She shared it with KiKi from 2018 to 2022, but aside from their joeys, few other females have ever been seen there.

Goora with her joey in 2022

Notes & references:

Ellis, W.A., Hale, P.T. and Carrick, F., 2002. Breeding dynamics of koalas in open woodlands. Wildlife Research29(1), pp.19-25. https://doi.org/10.1071/WR01042

p23: “Females appear to occupy discrete home ranges similar in size to those of ‘resident’ males (Ellis et al. 2001). They may disperse as juveniles but a significant proportion reproduce within their maternal home range (Ellis, unpublished data). This supports the suggestion of Fowler et al. 2000) from mitochondrial DNA analysis that koala populations could be structured along matrilines.”

Ellis, W., Hale, P., Carrick, F., Hasegawa, M. and Nielsen Mand Esser, D., 2000. Aspects of the ecology of koalas at Blair Athol coal mine. Research and management of nonurban koala populations, pp.127-138. file:///C:/Users/Janine%20Duffy/Desktop/cqu_8711+SOURCE2+SOURCE2.4%20(1).pdf

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