The word KOALA is said to mean, “No drink” in several Aboriginal languages. This meaning is not entirely true.
While Koalas find much of their moisture they need in the eucalyptus leaves that they eat, they will visit dams, creeks and ponds when the climate is dry.
It is also said that they eat only a limited number of gum species but it is more that they will switch from one type to another depending on the seasons and the stages of growth in the trees. Fresh young shoots, emerging gum nuts as well as mature leaves are chosen at different times of year.
Koalas come to ground to find water and swap trees when they cannot jump from one to another. This is when they are most vulnerable to dog attacks and car accident as they cross roads to ever decreasing stands of trees. Each Koala requires around 100 suitable trees for its survival. Meanwhile their habitats are being cleared at an alarming rate.
Currently, the equivalent of one football field of native forests are clear felled in NSW, on average, EVERY TEN MINUTES!
It is estimated that over 50,000 Koalas have been lost in Queensland alone over the last decade or so. There were millions of Koalas in 1788 and now only 59,000 remain in Australia.
What can be done to halt this decline and the predicted extinction of this unique creature?
Here in Uralla, koalas have been on the move. Several have been rescued from the school, backyards and even the main street in recent weeks. This is believed to be due to the lack of moisture in eucalyptus leaves because of the drought. They are seeking better food or looking for water.
Any sightings of koalas in unusual settings should be reported to Denise at WIRES or other rescue groups so that they can be assessed for risk and relocated if appropriate.
A program is being suggested to begin soon, to leave water out in appropriate places and volunteers may be sought to monitor and refill these containers. Look out for future notices and respond.
Help us to keep these amazing animals for future generations to enjoy in the bush and not just in a Zoo.
By Chris Baker
Originally published in Uralla Wordsworth