About St Bees Island
|A tropical Whitsunday Island may seem a strange home for a
colony of koalas. St Bees is an untouched paradise. It is quite close to
Mackay, has a beautiful climate and, best of all, no people. A perfect home
The koalas were brought to the island in the early 1900s by the Busuttin family for purely aesthetic reasons. It is believed that the original colony had approximately 17 koalas. During the 1960s, koalas from St Bees were taken unofficially to establish populations on both Newry and Brampton Islands.
Because of the isolation of the St Bees population, it has been the subject of genetic research - comparing this group with koalas from other areas, and looking at differences between individuals in this colony. So far, 46 indiviuals have been genetically fingerprinted for six microsatellite loci.
This research gives an indication of the amount of inbreeding in the group, which seems to be not as great as on other, southern, islands.
It is also useful in understanding the breeding structure of the koalas. We hope to gain information on things such as whether one male dominates the breeding in the colony.