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Koala Photos

Phascolarctos cinereus

The one and only wild Koala that we saw! I knew that there were conservation issues, but it's more serious than I realized. We went to a few places where you could potentially see one, without luck, so decided to visit a Koala rescue place near Lismore. We learned a lot, including the challenges facing them. Habitat loss is by far the biggest contributor to their decline. We were a little puzzled when driving through relatively open country, seeing "Koala Crossing" signs. Weren't Koala's supposed to be in the forested (gum, eucalyptus trees) areas? Yes, but those areas are now scattered patches with farmland in between. One problem...the Koalas now have to go to ground to move from location to location, instead of moving through the forest canopy. That leaves them very susceptible to not only dingos, but to domestic dogs. A majority of injured Koalas showing up at the rescue place were attacked by domestic animals.

The second major factor behind habitat loss is disease. Chlamydia is the major culprit. As with humans, it's a sexually transmitted disease, but it affects up to 90% of Koalas in some parts of their range. It causes devastating health issues, including blindness and infertility. Half or more of females become infertile. An HIV-like retrovirus is also impacting Koalas in parts of their range.  Put it all together, and in just 10 years, up to 80% of Koalas are gone in  parts of their range. They're a threatened species.

It's interesting, because "conservation" in Australia seems to be taking a back burner lately. The same social issues are impacting Australia, with right-wing extremism, anti-immigrant hatred, and oligarchy gone mad. The result...koala conservation isn't getting the attention it needs.

It was a little depressing hearing about all of this at the Koala rescue place. But the good news...when we were leaving, we asked if there were somewhere we could have a chance of actually seeing a wild koala. They told us a place to try near Lismore. We were there no more than 5 minutes when my wife gleefully yelled "Koala!!".  And indeed, a wild Koala was napping in a gum tree very close to us.  She wasn't doing much for the 20-30 minutes that we watched her! I do have some photos where she half-heartedly opened her eyes for a minute and looked at  us, but they were from another angle as I was trying to get a shot, and didn't turn out very well. Still though, given what Koalas are going through in the wild, I'm THRILLED to be able to get a few photos of a wild Koala.

Click here to return to home page for Australia trip photos

Koala - Phascolarctos cinereus

Click on photos below for a higher-resolution view

Koala 1 - Phascolarctos cinereus Koala 2 - Phascolarctos cinereus Koala 3 - Phascolarctos cinereus

June 2nd, 2019
Near Lismore, Australia

June 2nd, 2019
Near Lismore, Australia

June 2nd, 2019
Near Lismore, Australia

 


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