After a series of devastating bush fires, communities were left with nothing, including the koala communities along the East Coast of Australia. Is it too late to save them?
Koala Habitat Loss and Bush Fires
Prior to the arrival and settlement of the First Fleet there were believed to be millions of koalas, many were depicted in Indigenous cave art. Sadly though, once Europeans saw the unique marsupial, hunting for their pelts soon began. When The Australian Koala Foundation announced that koalas were “functionally extinct” it caused a lot of Australians to sit up and listen. There are thought to be less than 80,000 koalas still in the wild in Australia. However, around 2,000 have been killed during the rampant bush fires in NSW and QLD. One of the main issues facing koalas during the bush fires is their inability to react to fast moving and forever changing fires. Although many have been saved by hard working volunteers (including dedicated detection dogs) it’s likely koala populations around the country will face extinction pockets. Meaning that certain areas that were once koala habitats won’t be able to repopulate.While deforestation and habitat loss has been a long standing problem for koalas along Australia’s east coast, bush fires can wipe out entire koala populations in a matter of days.
- Koalas love to snooze. On average they sleep for around 18 hours a day, mainly because they need energy to digest all their food.
- There are several different types of koalas, it depends on what area of Australia they are from. Koalas from southern Australia tend to be bigger and shaggier while Northern ones have smaller skulls and lighter fur.
- The koala’s closest relative is actually the wombat
- The word ‘koala’ is thought to mean ‘no drink’ or ‘no water’ in the Aboriginal language.
- In the wild koala’s can live for up to 18 years.
So, what can be done to save the koalas from extinction? Well, the next 18 months will be crucial for bush regeneration and rehabilitation for the koalas themselves. Hopefully, the ones that were badly hurt can be healed and participate in breeding programs to boost populations. Protecting their current habitats from deforestation and logging is crucial for their survival.