May 3rd is Wild Koala Day, a perfect day to raise awareness of endangered koalas and their threatened natural habitat.
Our friend, Janine Duffy, from Echidna Walkabout Tours, knows a little bit about koalas. It was Janine who penned a paper which rocked the Koala Expert world a few years ago, on how the patterns on their noses are unique and can be used (viewed through binoculars, etc.) to identify koalas. Most people are unaware that wild koalas have seen enormous population decline, even in the last 5-10 years. In some regions of Australia, where they were once common, koalas are now classified as critically endangered. Everything from habitat destruction, dog attacks, highway crossings, and bushfires are devastating koala populations. The poor Koalas are even going through a chlamydia epidemic!
Janine has personally improved the habitat of wild koalas and other wildlife around Australia, most especially in the You Yangs Regional Park in Victoria (near Melbourne), and we’re proud to work with such a partner like her. Her excursions involve seeing and learning about koalas, actually helping to remove invasive plant species, and contributing to habitat restoration. All she and we want is for everyone to know more about koalas and their threatened natural habitat. What better time to start than on Wild Koala Day (May 3)!
To start off Wild Koala Day celebrations, here are 25 facts about koalas.
- Koalas are the only living members of their family, Phascolarctidae.
- Koalas closest relative is the wombat, but they’re not very close relations.
- Koalas have fingerprints that are individual and very like humans.
- Koalas are the only animals other than primates that have fingerprints.
- Koalas are not bears, and are not evenly distantly related to bears.
- The only American animal koalas are related to is the opossum, and that’s a very very distant relative.
- Koalas are marsupials, the young are born tiny and grow up in a pouch.
- Koalas only live naturally on Australia’s East Coast: Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).
- The only place in the world you can see a wild koala is Australia.
- Koalas are one of the ten species worldwide most at risk from climate change.
- Koalas eat hundreds of species of eucalyptus (gum-trees).
- Koalas eat and drink eucalyptus, they get most of their water from the leaves.
- A male koala’s life expectancy is around 14 years. Female koalas outlive males by 5 to 10 years.
- Koalas have a complex social structure, managed by vocalizations.
- Major threats to koalas are, in this order:
– Climate change
– Habitat destruction
– Mines and their infrastructure
– Dogs and vehicles
- Southern koalas from Victoria are much bigger, darker, and fluffier than northern koalas.
- A koala male from Victoria can weigh around 12kg (26lbs).
- Cold weather doesn’t bother koalas much, but hot weather is hard for them!
- A wild koala usually changes trees every day.
- Wild koalas can walk 1km overnight and still be in their home range.
- A male koala in the You Yangs, near Melbourne, needs 20,000 trees to live.
- Koala Clancy is the most famous wild koala in the world. He can be visited on a tour near Melbourne.
- The best way you can help koalas is by visiting them in the wild. Tag your wild koala pic.
- When it comes to koala breeding, the ladies choose their mate!
- Female koalas are ‘cougars,’ they usually mate with younger males.
To see what a day with Janine, koalas, and other Australian wildlife is like, check out one Goway’s most popular day tours, Koalas & Kangaroos in the Wild.
You can also check out this video of Janine in action!:
Last year we chipped in to support the Koala Clancy Foundation, and you can learn about the trials and tribulations of the (world famous) young koala bachelor, Clancy here: