Insights from Koala–Cattle Interaction Experiments: Koalas and Cattle May See Each Other as a Disturbance

Jiang, Alex Zijian and Tribe, Andrew and Phillips, Clive J. C. and Murray, Peter J. ORCID: (2022) Insights from Koala–Cattle Interaction Experiments: Koalas and Cattle May See Each Other as a Disturbance. Animals, 12 (7):872. pp. 1-17.

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Koalas are facing many threats and have now been officially listed as endangered. Recently, concerns were raised in anecdotal reports of koalas being killed by livestock, especially cattle. We investigated the significance of cattle as a threat to koala survival via two koala–cattle interaction experiments, from both the koala and cattle perspectives. In the first experiment, we recorded the ranging behaviour of free-ranging, radio-collared koalas prior to, during and after cattle grazed within their usual home range. Koalas decreased their distance travelled and the size of their home range when they shared space with cattle, compared with the period before cattle started grazing within their home range. In the second experiment, we recorded the reactions of cattle towards koalas that they encountered on the ground, using motorised animal models: a model koala mounted on a remote-controlled vehicle and a model dog mounted on the same vehicle, and the vehicle alone. The koala model elicited aggression and fear in cattle, similar to the dog model, whereas their reaction to the vehicle was significantly less aggressive. No actual attacks by the cattle were observed. The results provide experimental evidence that negative koala–livestock interactions occur and indicate that cattle and koalas may see each other as a disturbance.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current – Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Agriculture and Environmental Science (1 Jan 2022 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Life Sciences and the Environment - Centre for Sustainable Agricultural Systems (1 Aug 2018 -)
Date Deposited: 20 Apr 2022 05:00
Last Modified: 20 Apr 2022 05:00
Uncontrolled Keywords: Phascolarctos cinereus; trauma; injury; mortality; cow; bull; attack; trample; risk; domestic animal; wildlife conservation
Fields of Research (2020): 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310914 Vertebrate biology
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310901 Animal behaviour
Socio-Economic Objectives (2020): 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1806 Terrestrial systems and management > 180699 Terrestrial systems and management not elsewhere classified
18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1806 Terrestrial systems and management > 180606 Terrestrial biodiversity
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