The small and cute Koala is a favourite species of Australians and tourists alike. This gorgeous grey and white marsupial is found in the tree tops of Eucalyptus Trees usually feasting on it's favourite food Eucalyptus or Gum leaves. In fact Koalas spend so much time in the tree tops, Indigenous Australians gave the Koala it's name as it means 'no drink' as Koalas receive 90% of their fluid intake from Eucalyptus leaves.
Often mistaken for a small bear, the Koala is in fact not a bear but a marsupial. They carry their young in their pouch. Koalas are now found in the woodland area's of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. Found in groups, Koalas are very territorial and will stay on their own territory and associate only with members of their own group.
Koalas are notoriously fussy eaters, only eating certain types of Eucalyptus leaves. It has been noted that there are over 600 types of Eucalyptus Trees in Australia although Koalas will only eat the leaves off 40 to 50 varieties of trees.
Being fussy eaters does is not helping their already threatened species. Koalas are currently struggling due to their loss of habitat, with more land clearing in the way for human developments this leaves little food variety and tree's for them to live in.
Unfortunately also because of the amount of humans moving out of city areas and further into rural areas that the koalas call home they are also suffering from the increase in cars and traffic but also from the risk of domestic animals. Dogs are becoming a huge threat to Koalas.
Recently a Koala named Sam became famous world wide after being rescued from the Victorian Bush Fires in Febuary 2009. This Koala helped the country realise how much of a threat humans and natural disasters are impacting on our Australian Wildlife. The threat of Bush Fires is a huge risk for the remaining Koala species, devastatingly with more of these fires being caused by arsonists it is again humans making the biggest impact on these animals lives.
Not only is it the man made and natural disasters making an impact on the lives of koalas. There are four common diseases that are causing alot of harm with wildlife rehabilitation and protection. Chlamydia is the main killer in Koalas, diseases caused by the Chlamydia organism include conjunctivitis, pneumonia, urinary tract infections and reproductive tract infections. Causing blindness and impacting on the female reproductive system.
As well as the devastating news of Chlamydia Koalas are also suffering from Leukemia and Skin Cancer. With diseases such as these re populating the Koala community is becoming more and more difficult.
Wildlife Sanctuaries are helping to rehabilitate Koalas in captivity, increasing the population and then returning them into the wild. While this is helping there is still the risk of them becoming infected with Chlamydia or getting Cancer. If these diseases spread it could have beyond devastating effects on the Koala's numbers in the wild.
Visit to the Endangered Koala
To get a first-hand glimpse of well-known animals which we usually see in a picturesque encyclopedia, such as koala, kangaroo, kiwi, and ostrich you must travel to Australia with a well-planned itinerary. There must be adequate time, equipments, and backpacking gadgets so that you can check them at their home turf. Koala is one such endangered animal that thrive in Australia. And, if you want to know their lifestyle, eating style, and particular habits, you need to visit them at their home range. I took one such opportune moment to visit the endangered wild.
While moving to Australia forests, I visited Queensland, South Wales, and Victoria. I could spot some koalas in Queensland and South Wales. However, decline in the natural habitat, bushfire, dog attacks, and car mishaps have taken a toll on these beautiful creatures. It is amazing to note how these social animals communicate with one another, live in a society of their own, and look after their young ones with great devotion and care.
A Tryst at their Home Range
A particular home range could easily be a little more than 43 hectares of land. Both male and females have their respective home ranges but a male member would be far more possessive than a female koala. As they are quite social among one another, there are some specific trees where they socialize and interact with their families while few others are “food trees” where they use as a resource for food.
Amid trees, I could hear various sounds emitted by the koalas. There were female koalas with a baby tucked in their pouch. The mother and the baby communicate with soft clicking sounds or humming off and on sounds. When angry or aggressive, the koalas grunt. There are numerous sounds emitted by koalas of different age-groups as well.
Did You Know?
Trees are very important for koalas. They feed on eucalyptus tree and also make it their home for life. Specific tree is demarcated for specific purpose. Cutting off trees can seriously damage the well being of a koala as it cannot share a tree with another koala.
Spots You can Try Out
Just like me, even you can enjoy holidays in Australia with your kids at a location which has koalas nearby. Some sanctuaries which provide proper home for koalas and allow visitors to take a look at them in their natural surroundings include Gorge Wildlife Park in South Australia, Ballarat Wildlife Park in Victoria, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane, The Rainforest Habitat in Queensland, and Australian Reptile Park in New South Wales.
Koala Not Alone
Australia is noted for its wildlife where there are numerous types of marsupials, rodents, carnivores, and herbivores that thrive among the forests and other untouched natural habitat of the country. Swamp turtle living in the swampy areas of Western Australia, Green Turtle of the coral islands, hairy-nosed wombat, pandas, Tasmanian Devil, and Paradise Parrot are some of the near-extinct species that are facing similar problem as the koalas.
Apart from rare photographs and videos, I got a glimpse of koala’s lifestyle in their natural territory. Their secured and social ways of living would surely amaze many knowledgeable humans and nature lovers.