The koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) is an Australian mammal. Its closest living relative is the wombat. Often called koala bears they are in fact not at all related to bears despite their bear-like appearance.
A large head, big round fluffy ears , a chunky body, a large nose and tiny eyes sounds just weird. But they are sooooo cute. With a body length of 24 – 33 inches, their fur colour can range from silvery grey to chocolate brown. The ones we saw were silver grey.
Koalas can be found in open eucalyptus woodlands as these leaves make up the bulk of their diet. Due to the limited nutritional value of eucalptus leaves koalas are relatively sedentary, sleeping 19 – 20 hours a day usually curled up in the fork of a tree. Bit like panda. They’re adorable too. Koalas are increasingly found in populated areas and are an endangered species. With few natural predators and parasites, they are nevertheless threatened by various pathogens, bushfires, drought, habitat destruction and urbanisation.
We spent some time on Saturday 1st April strolling around the koala trail on Raymond Island at Lakes Entrance. The island has a protected wildlife sanctuary. It has a relatively large wildlife koala population, taking its protection role very seriously with an island based co-ordination focused on koala safety and wellbeing.
Koalas, like kangaroos, give birth to undeveloped young. They weigh in at a teeny tiny less than 0.5gm. The joeys spend the first six to seven months in their mother’s pouch, being fully weaned at a year old.
Their large paws and opposable thumbs give great grip for climbing. Male koalas, larger in size than the females, make a terrible noise during breeding season.
I can remember a few years ago when we stayed a few days on the island being woken up at night thinking someone was being murdered! It was the local wildlife doing what comes naturally.
© Raili Tanska
PS – we hit the road for a bit again today, crossing over to Queenscliffe by ferry. Just a hop, skip and a jump really. The plan is to hang around there for a day or so before starting to mosey back towards home.
Somehow, we must transform the dynamics of the world power struggle from the negative nuclear arms race, which no one can win, to a positive contest to harness humanity’s creative genius for the purpose of making peace and prosperity a reality for all the nations of the world – Martin Luther King