Often called the koala “bear”, this fuzzy animal is not a bear at all; it is a tree dwelling marsupial. Koalas are found in coastal areas to the east and south of Australia, where the eucalyptus trees that form their habitat is plentiful. The koala is easily recognised by its stout, tailless body and large head with round ears and oval shaped nose. The average body length would range from 60-85cm, weighing close to 4-15kg with fur colours that vary from silver to chocolate brown.
During the 1920s-30s the Koalas population plunged due to hunting. Helped by reintroduction, they have reappeared over much of their former range, but their populations are smaller and scattered. Koalas need a lot of space, about 100 trees per animal - a pressing problem as Australia's woodlands continue to shrink.
Right now Koalas are losing their homes and lives to excess tree-clearing and raging bushfires.
Over the last year, the clearing of trees has nearly tripled in NSW alone. Hundreds of thousands of hectares of native bushland and forest have been cleared at an unsustainable rate. This has left vital natural habitats completely destroyed or fragmented. Slow moving marsupials, Koalas are susceptible to bushfires and can be affected by dehydration during heat waves. Chlamydia is also a significant threat and is more prevalent in stressed populations.
Currently Australia has lost 1 in 4 Koalas over the last 20 years. At this rate, Koalas could be extinct as early as 2050.
KOALA HOSPITAL PORT MACQUARIE
The Koala Hospital established in 1973 is an activity of the Koala Conservation Australia Incorporated - a Not-for-Profit Organisation which is recognised world-wide as a peak body which participates in forums for debate on significant policy issues and plays a significant leadership role in research, providing advice and information to Universities and Governments regulating change.