A drone-based project to survey koalas using heat-seeing cameras has had some luck on its first two night, spotting two of the reclusive marsupials around Mt Kembla.
This is the start of a new project to investigate koalas in the area as while plenty is known about the marsupials in the Macarthur area, information on the Escarpment and Mt Kembla is not so plentiful.
It's the ideal place to start, given Mr Kembla is where the first koala described by Western science was captured, way back in 1803.
Kevin Fallon, who has now added Chief Pilot to his job description at Symbio Zoo in Helensburgh, said he was able to take advantage of the good weather to make solid progress.
He said two koalas had been spotted, which was a promising start, as the nights were cool enough for ambient heat to not disrupt the thermal imaging camera carried by the drone.
Symbio's partner in this is coal miner South32, after the two organisations announced their conservation project in March this year.
The Wednesday and Thursday night surveying was performed on South32's Dendrobium mining lease land at Mt Kembla, where the bush, Mr Fallon said, was "beautiful" and undisturbed.
South32 IMC vice-president of operations Peter Baker said "very little" was known about koalas around Mt Kembla and the Illawarra Escarpment.
"We expect the program will help us to gain a better understanding of local koala populations in the Illawarra and Macarthur region so we can work to protect and conserve them, now and for generations to come," he said.
The Department of Planning and Environment said it was not involved in this project.
The koalas could not be reached for comment.