Rediscovering Vegemite! You Yangs Koala Update – November 2010

We become very fond of our Koala friends in the You Yangs.  Every one is so individual, with special idiosyncrasies that will never be seen in another koala. So it’s heartbreaking when a familiar old fella is displaced from his home by a new, virile stud.  It’s nature, of course, and we have to accept that it is necessary to the health of the species.  But sometimes there is a silver lining to the cloud!

Vegemite was dominant male at Big Rock track for 3 years.  At first he didn’t like our attention one bit, but over time he came to tolerate us, in a rather grudging way.  He would look down his aristocratic nose at us, flare his nostrils and return to sleep.  He shared his home with gorgeous females Mary, Cloud and Aris.  Life was good.

But it never lasts…. Along came Anzac in May 2009.  He was young, very fit and looking for a palace big enough to fit his ambitions.  He checked out Merle’s home on three occasions in Autumn 2009, and either rejected it, or was escorted out by big-boy Merle.  Next stop was Vegemite’s house, and this he liked.

Over three months Anzac moved in on Vegemite.  We don’t know whether they fought, or battled by bluff, but by August 2009 Vegemite had had enough.  He left Big Rock Track and returned to the area he had occupied in 2006 before he took Big Rock Track off Tim Tam, the previous dominant male.

But Vegemite couldn’t let go of his hard-won home, and returned in early October.  Maybe he was missing Mary, his beautiful partner of 3 years.  Maybe he had one last try at beating Anzac.  But, after one last visit on 25 October 2009, he left the area entirely, and was next found 3.5km away to the east, outside of the You Yangs Park.  He was carrying a few new scars.

We thought it was the last time we would see our old friend.

A year later – 11 November 2010 – we rediscovered Vegemite on East Boundary Track in the eastern portion of the You Yangs Park.  At first we couldn’t believe it.  But when you know somebody that well, their face is imprinted on your memory.  His nose pattern (our method of identifying individuals) is still the same.  He has even more scars, but he is looking very well.  We’ve since seen him three more times, so we think he has made this area his new home.  He has a few lovely ladies hanging around too!

We have always wondered what happens to males after they’ve been displaced.  Some probably die from fight injuries, others might travel long distances looking for a home. Some possibly stay nearby, but in sub-optimal habitat.  The strong ones, like Vegemite, may succeed in becoming dominant male a second time in another area.  He is just one example, but what a great opportunity to monitor one male’s ongoing progress!

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