Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya, I couldn't stop myself from putting the blog together. So soft, so cuddly and so sleepy. I have received so many emails about koalas being saved during the latest bushfires and as wonderful as that maybe I sat and wondered how many people actually know that soon, maybe sooner than we think, there may no longer be any koalas left in the wild to be saved during such disasters. So I put this page together from information taken from childrens sites to different newspaper articles and I think it will surprise most people who read it as the news is all bad, infact extremely bad. Photo's (from many of the emails that have been doing the rounds) can be found beneath the text as usual. Extreme drought, ferocious bushfires and urban development are killing Australia's koalas!</b> And could push the species towards extinction within a decade!</b> Koala is an aboriginal word meaning "no water". The koala is a marsupial with a backward facing pouch. The baby koala climbs into its mother's pouch which has two teats and stays there for 6 to 7 months. When the koala is born, it is the size of a broad bean. The adult koala spend 19 hours sleeping or just sitting on a branch. If a flood threatens the koala's home, it is able to escape by crossing the water, because it is a very strong swimmer. The call of the koala is like wood being cut by a saw. Because this animal is rare in the wild, it is now protected. The koala has a large black nose, short fat legs and is covered with thick, woolly, grey fur. The koala has one baby a year and it takes 35 days to be born. It is only 2cm long and can't see and doesn't have any hair. The adult koala grows up 80cm tall and looks like a small bear. The Queensland adult koala weighs 5 to 9kg and a female, 5 to 7.5kg. In the south, they are larger. The koala has two thumbs on its front paws and rough pads on all four paws to help grip slippery tree trunks. The koala eats eucalyptus leaves and shoots. It climbs with its sharp claws to the very top of the branches so it can get the young leaves. The koala rarely drinks because it gets all its moisture from the leaves. About 5 hours every night is spent on eating leaves. It eats about 500g to 1kg a day. It eats the leaves by putting them in its mouth on an angle, and grinding them up with its molar teeth. Eucalyptus leaves have a lot of poisonous substances and the koala is the only other mammal other than the Greater Glider who can eat these leaves. <u>Seriously Mate, How Much MORE Can a Koala Bear!</u></b> Alarms about the demise of the iconic and peculiar animal, which sleeps about 20 hours per day and eats only the leaves of the eucalyptus tree, have been raised before. They have been listed as a vulnerable species which could go to extinction within 10 years. That could now be seven years. South-eastern Queensland has the strongest koala populations in the vast country, meaning extinction in this area spells disaster for the future of the species. The biggest threat is the loss of habitat due to road building and development on Australia's eastern coast - traditional koala country. The joke is that koalas enjoy good real estate and are often pushed out of their habitat by farming or development. "I've driven pretty much the whole country and I just see environmental vandalism and destruction everywhere I go," "It's a very sorry tale. There are koala management problems all over the country." Massive bushfires that raged in the country's south for weeks during the Australian summer, burning a million hectares of land, would also have killed thousands of koalas. Meanwhile, there is the worst drought in a century, genetic mutations from decades of inbreeding in some populations, and the widespread incidence of chlamydia, a type of venereal disease that affects fertility, to further cut koala numbers. Moreover, the animals are often fatally attacked by pet dogs. "In south-east Queensland, the koalas are just in people's backyards and the dogs just munch on them". <u>Koala Numbers</u></b> Confusing the issue is the lack of data on the number of koalas in the wild.
Figures range from 100 000 animals to several million. What is known is that there were once millions of them ranged along eastern Australia. The hunting and slaughter for their furs in the 1920s eradicated the species in the state of South Australia and pushed Victorian populations close to extinction. Public outrage over the killing of the big-eyed "bears" put an end to the practice, but Victorian stocks were unfortunately later replenished with in-bred animals, leading to a lack of genetic diversity in that state. As a result, genetic problems such as missing testicles and deformed "pin" heads emerged in Victorian koalas, said University of Queensland academic Frank Carrick. Carrick, who leads a koala study project at the university, estimates the national population of the marsupial at about one million. And while he doesn't believe the animal will be extinct within a decade, he acknowledges that numbers are contracting. "Though we don't really have an accurate figure on how many koalas there are in Australia right now, we do know one thing - that it's going down. Because we keep chopping down trees and their food source," he said. It will take 40 to 50 years for the koala to recover sufficiently from the effects of the latest Victorian bushfires, drought and development. "Exactly how small do we want the population to be before we push the panic button?" he said. <u>Habitat</u></b> The koala is found in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. It lives in high tree tops in National Parks and forests. The koala likes to spend his day curled up in the fork of a eucalyptus tree. Their powerful legs help them to keep their balance in the trees. Dan Lunney, a senior research scientist with the New South Wales state department of environment and conservation, said koalas cover roughly the same territory as they did 20 years ago. In some areas - Victoria state and Kangaroo Island in South Australia - koala numbers are growing. But in New South Wales (NSW), which tracks the east coast of Australia, the koala is a recognised threatened species. "That means if nothing is done about it the population will continue to decline," he said. "The issue is not how many there are; it's whether they are declining or not." Lunney said while the Victorian bushfires would have killed large numbers of animals, as long as some koalas survived and as long as sufficient bush regrowth is maintained, the population will recover overall. "Koalas can take a fair bit. That's why we've still got them," he said. "But they do have a threshold at which they can't continue." He said populations are at most risk of dying out in areas where new houses are being built, putting them at risk of death by cars and dogs. "Koalas in the NSW coastal areas are the most vulnerable because that's where the human population is increasing," he said. "As the human population increases on the North Coast, the cost is coming out in the survival of koalas. Road kill - it's a common way to see wildlife." Drought, fire and flood have always been part of the Australian environment, "but when your habitat is fragmented, all these things are exacerbated", said Erna Walraven, senior curator at Sydney's Taronga Zoo. Walraven sees the koala as a flagship species, with the health of their populations serving as an indicator of the wider health of the wildlife of the bush, including bandicoots and wallabies. "My view is that there are a range of animals under that five-, six-, seven-kilogram range that really are quite vulnerable to increased development and land clearing on the coast," she said. The koala is in there with many other species, native Australian icons, that are under threat.". <u>And a Little Extra (from the Herald Sun)</u></b> Not just humans emerged from the ashes after amazing feats of survival in the Victoria fires. Animals of all shapes and sizes are starting to limp, stagger or be carried from the worst-affected fire areas. Many are so severely injured they have to be destroyed, but others are being taken in by wildlife carers across the state. Healesville Sanctuary has taken in emergency cases, despite being threatened itself by fire. Among its current charges is Bellerine the possum, who was found in Healesville with third-degree burns on her feet. She was given her name, which means "little shoes" in French, after all of her feet were bandaged. The sanctuary is also treating a young echidna, which was picked up in Chum Creek and brought in yesterday suffering smoke inhalation. Healesville Sanctuary senior vet Rupert Baker said although carers were receiving a lot of animals, they had not seen the huge numbers many were expecting. "Tragically, this could mean that the heat was so intense that most perished," he said. "There are also huge areas that wildlife carers still can't get into because they are still closed off, so we have no idea how many are out there." Dr Baker said people wanting to help animals should leave out water in fire-affected areas. They should also keep dogs and cats locked in, to stop them savaging weak or injured animals, and call a wildlife carer as soon as they find an animal that needs help. Dr Baker said Healesville staff had a busy week, evacuating more than 200 endangered Tasmanian devils, mountain pigmy possums, helmeted honeyeaters and frogs. Meanwhile, Sam became the most famous koala in the world when firefighter David Tree stopped to give him a drink amid the devastation of the Victoria fires. Pictures of Sam, who turned out to be female, travelled around the globe and featured in major newspapers including The New York Times, London's The Sun and on CNN. The image provided a much-needed picture of hope in a week filled with news of despair. Yesterday Sam was recovering in Mountain Ash Wildlife Shelter.
Carer Jenny Shaw said she suffered burns on her paws and was in a lot of pain, but was on the road to recovery. She was put on an IV drip and is on antibiotics and pain relief treatment. "She is lovely - very docile - and she has already got an admirer. A male koala keeps putting his arms around her," Ms Shaw said. "She will need regular attention and it will be a long road to recovery, but she should be able to be released back into the wild in about five months." Mr Tree said he was surprised by the reaction to the photograph, which was snapped by a fellow CFA volunteer on a mobile phone. He said he was in the middle of backburning at Mirboo North when he saw the stricken koala. "I could see she had sore feet and was in trouble, so I pulled over the fire truck. She just plonked herself down, as if to say 'I'm beat'," he said. "I offered her a drink and she drank three bottles. "The most amazing part was when she grabbed my hand. I will never forget that." Mr Tree and his brigade then received an emergency call-out to save a house, but minutes later Sam was picked up by wildlife carers. She is one of 22 koalas, 14 ringtail possums, several wallabies and eastern grey kangaroos that have been handed into Gippsland carers. Anyone who finds injured wildlife should call Wildlife Connect on 13 11 11. Beers N Noodles toyaÃ‚Âc..shane __________________________________________________________ The soundtrack to this entry was by the Jazzy sounds of Dave Brubeck The album was 'Take Five His Greatest Hits' __________________________________________________________