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FOR PRESS:-

The Minister for the Interior, Mr Peter Nixon, said today that koalas would be reintroduced to the Australian Capital Territory at the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.

The first 16 of 30 animals to be brought from Victoria would be released into a nine acre natural forest enclosure at Tidbinbilla. on Friday morning (March 28).

Mr Nii:on said the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve Was suitable for the koalas. The lower slo p es of the Tidbinbilla Valley had forest cover dominated by the Ribbon or Manna Gum which provided a suitable diet for koalas.

The 11,500 acre nature reserve was established by the Department of the Interior to conserve native fauna and flora and for the education and recreation of the public.

An area of 40 acres of the reserve has been fenced to Give the koalas a protected, natural living place, While they will be released first into the nine acre area, the whole area will be available when they become accustomed to their new home.

If the introduction of the first koalas is successful another seven pairs of koalas will be released next year.

A special fence has been Luilt to prevent the koalas escaping and to keep other animals particularly foxes from the area. Trees have been trimmed so the koalas cannot drop over the fence or Move from a tree in the enclosed space to another outside.

Mr Nixon said the reintroduction of the animals into the A.O.T. would not have been possible without the co— operation of the Victorian Government.

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He said the approach had been made to Victoria because climatic conditions there were similar to those in the A.C.T.

The Department of the Interior's biologist ldr M, Elliott and the technical assistant from the reserve, Mr T. Thomas, are now in Victoria helping officers of the Victorian Fisheries and Wildlife Department collect the animals.

Mr Nixon said there were large areas of suitable forest for koalas in the A.C.T. and it was possible there

were small colonies of the animals in existence, but none had been sighted for years.

Koalas were Previously introduced to the Territory in 1939 when the Institute of Anatomy obtained six animals for scientific research purposes. These were held in a small enclosure of about three acres at Tidbinbifla which now formed part of the fauna reserve. The research project ended in 1945 when the animals escaped into the surrounding forest.

26 March 1969