Wild Koala Day 2020

The koala is one of Australia’s most famous and favourite animals, and a national symbol of Australia’s unique wildlife.

Wild Koala Day 2020

Over the past 5 years, the koala population has declined in Australia and is currently classified as ‘vulnerable’ with numbers decreasing (IUCN red list of Endangered Species). The current estimate of koala individuals in the wild is 2000 – 8000, a decrease of 90% over the past 10 years.

Koalas are very distantly related to wombats and kangaroos. They are the only animals to have a unique finger print. They are not bears and are not related to bears. Being a marsupial their infants are born very small and raised within the mother’s pouch.

Koala in tree
Habitat

In the wild, their habitats are Queensland in Australia’s East Coast, New South Wales, Victoria, Australian Capital Territory (ACT), and South Australia. Koala survives on a diet of eucalyptus leaves and can consume up to 1 kg of leaves per day. They prefer to eat the younger and more juicy nutrient full leaves at the treetops. The name Koala is thought to mean “no drink” in the Australian Aboriginal language. Koalas can sleep up to 18 hours a day, usually high up in the eucalyptus trees hugging or wedged between the branches.

Major threats to Koalas

Due to deforestation koalas are losing their homes and have nowhere to go. With declining eucalyptus trees koalas are having to spend more time on the ground in search of food and shelter. This puts them at high risk of being hit by vehicles, attacked by wild and domestic dogs. They are also susceptible to stress-induced illnesses; such as chlamydia. Kangaroo Island koalas are the only koala population in Australia free from chlamydia. Any koala taken from Kangaroo Island to the mainland can never be returned to the island due to the risk of infecting the rest of the island’s population. Koalas survive well in the cooler climates but suffer greatly in the heat.

Koala wedged in eucalyptus tree

Koalas live mainly in trees, wedging themselves between branches to rest and sleep. This requires a lot of support from their backsides, which are rounded at the end of their lower spine and have very strong cartilage to support themselves. Koala are mainly nocturnal.

Tree hugging koala

Following the arrival of Europeans to Australia in 1788 much of the koalas, habitats were cleared for farms, towns, roads, mines, and logging, which severely affected their population. They were also hunted and killed for their fur. It was due to the hunting that the Australian Government deemed them as a Protected Species in 1937.

Recent bushfires

Due to the catastrophic bushfires that consumed large swathes of land in the summer of 2019/2020 in Australia, it is thought that up to 30% of koalas were killed in the New South Wales fires alone. It is believed that over 10,000 koalas perished in these fires across Australia. Koalas are slowly being released back into the wild following treatment and care for their burns sustained in the fires.

A very chilled out koala
How can we help save the remaining koalas

Australia Koala Foundation and Bushfire Emergency – Adopt a Koala. There are many ways to support their appeal to raise awareness and support their ongoing and wonderful programs to save these amazing animals.

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