Tag Archives: koala

After the bushfires in Australia, the ‘koala ark’ searched for future-resilient populations | Instant News


During the Southern Hemisphere’s 2019-20 summer, the world watched as eastern and southern Australia battled some of the country’s worst bushfires in generations.

Most of the fighting took place on land, but among the worst-affected areas was Kangaroo Island, home to a small community off the country’s southern coast, where hell burned more than half of its 440,000 hectares.

Kangaroo Island is famous for its native wildlife, including sea lions, koalas and, of course, kangaroos. But it is estimated that up to 90% of the island’s koala population, which previously numbered 50,000, died as fire swept through eucalyptus plantations.

The koalas at the Hanson Bay Wildlife Refuge have fared better. More than a year later, Jim Geddes displayed a gray-brown hairy ball pinned to a eucalyptus tree branch in the car park of the wildlife sanctuary, which sits on the western tip of the most badly damaged island.

“Did you meet my Parking Inspector?” Geddes, co-owner and founder of the wildlife sanctuary, said with a laugh.

With one talon burned, the massive male is among the handful of wild koalas who have survived the bushfires.

Geddes said about 99% of the more than 2,000 hectares of wildlife sanctuary was affected by the fires, which started as lightning strikes in Flinders Chase National Park, just four kilometers from the highway.

Firefighters said the weather conditions were very strong winds, a continuous day where temperatures rose above 40 degrees Celsius and low humidity kept the fire out of control.

Jim Geddes, founder of the Hanson Bay Wildlife Refuge, shows a hairy ball pinned to a eucalyptus tree branch in the parking area of ​​the sanctuary on Australia’s Kangaroo Island.
| KYODO

“Driving back through the burning ground, right after the fire broke out, there were no buildings, or cars, or living things there,” said Andy Wood, the Fire Service brigade captain and one of the commanders during the fire. “I’ve never seen such devastation before.”

Regardless of the conditions, Geddes estimates that only 30% of the koalas on his property have been killed. However, the loss of bush habitat means survivors will struggle for food and shelter, while the orphaned joey will need additional human support.

As a result, Geddes and his team decided to move 28 younger animals, whose chances in the wild were uncertain, to a wildlife park on mainland Australia.

“It is a bitter moment for us because they will be taken prisoner. But it’s also very important and very historic because we don’t know what the long-term impact of fires will have on the local koala population, “he said.

The relocation of koalas to Cleland Wildlife Park on the outskirts of Adelaide, South Australia, is also historic for mainland koalas in Australia, whose populations are heavily affected by infectious and genetic diseases.

“Kangaroo Island is very important because it has animals that do not have two types of disease: chlamydia and retroviruses,” explained Chris Daniels, former director of Cleland Wildlife Park and CEO of Koala Life, a non-profit organization dedicated to koala conservation and research.

Daniels said the fires on Kangaroo Island meant “it looks like the most important koala population in the country – and therefore the world” – could have been wiped out, so they made the swift decision to relocate the group that would serve as “koala ark” for the mainland population.

Kangaroo Island’s koala disease-free status thanks to the animals being geographically isolated from their mainland counterparts for generations. However, this same isolation results in a lack of genetic diversity. It has caused a disease called oxalate nephrosis, which causes kidney collapse, to become widespread among the population.

As an intervention, Daniels and the Koala Life team plan to breed the chlamydia-free Kangaroo Island koalas with a more genetically diverse group of males from neighboring Victoria to create a generation of “super koalas”.

A koala at the Hanson Bay Wildlife Reserve |  KYODO
A koala at the Hanson Bay Wildlife Reserve | KYODO

“We will end up with a koala that is not only free of infectious disease but also free of oxalate nephrosis … in that case, you have the healthiest, strongest and toughest koalas you can possibly have,” said Daniels.

Across mainland Australia, koala populations are under increasing pressure, not only from disease and natural disasters, but also from human intervention through building roads and housing in highly territorial areas of animal habitat.

In Australia’s most populous state of New South Wales, some experts predict wild koalas will become extinct by 2050 unless more is done to protect the iconic mammal.

Despite minor differences between the two Australian varieties – the Northern and Southern koalas – Daniels believes there is “absolutely no reason” why disease-free southern koalas from South Australia could not be reintroduced further north.

“They will do very well there. Even though there is a size difference between North and South, the genetic difference is very small, “he said.

The relocation and resettlement of koalas on Kangaroo Island was an “effective military operation,” with army personnel assisting park staff with routine koala feeding and health checks.

In addition to monitoring any injuries sustained in a fire, the handler must help the animal adapt to the new diet of the different varieties of eucalyptus leaves.

“Even if it’s the same species (eucalyptus)… koalas can get stomachaches. And if they have a stomachache, they lose their condition very quickly, and they can become dehydrated and die, ”said Daniels.

“Really, only soldiers can do it,” he said, “because in the same way the koalas quickly get used to it all the time.

“The stress of killing koalas,” Daniels explained, adding that by establishing routines early the relocation was successful.

Although five koalas died during the relocation, the other two were later found carrying a small joey the size of a jelly bean in their pouch.

“It hurts when you think of (the fact that) fires are burning around these mothers, and they are giving birth at the same time in these trees,” said Daniels, describing witnessing the survival of two joey, Breezy and Phoenix, as a “sensation. outstanding”.

Returning to Kangaroo Island, Geddes, the founder of the wildlife sanctuary, has also seen the remaining koalas bounce back from the fires – with at least five joey seen in recent months.

“They are all natural wonders as far as I know,” said Geddes.

“They say this is one fire in 200 years. So, given that everything – all the plants and animals in Australia – has evolved with regular wildfires, we are now seeing a recovery of one in 200 years. “

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Koalas are ‘endangered’ in many parts of Australia, but we can stop that | Instant News


First of all: is the koala really at risk of extinction or is it damaged?

We don’t know exactly how many koalas were in Australia when the Europeans arrived.

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But to find out how many were in Australia in the mid to late 1800s, records from the koala fur trade tell a surprising story.

In Queensland itself, 500,000 skins were collected in 31 days from the last open season in 1927.

Across Australia, as many as 8 million koalas were killed for their skins during the late 1800s and early 1900s, according to the Australian Koala Foundation.

Most of it is sent to Europe, the UK and the US to be turned into coats, gloves and hats, according to koala ecologist Frank Carrick of the University of Queensland (UQ).

“There was a massive fur trade to Europe and especially to Britain in the late 1800s. There were millions [of export skins] recorded, “said Professor Carrick.

Millions of koalas were killed for their skins during the late 1800s and early 1900s.(Provided: Australian Koala Foundation)

Currently, our best estimates for the current number of koalas come from a 2012 study by UQ’s Christine Hosking, and her colleagues.

They calculated that there were about 330,000 koalas left in Australia, although given the difficulty of counting them, the margin of error ranged from 144,000 to 605,000.

Dr Hosking and colleagues found that in the 21 years preceding 2012 and projected over the next 21 years, Queensland’s koala population will more than halve, and in New South Wales it will fall by 26 percent.

Victoria, South Australia and the ACT will see significant, but smaller, decline.

So is it fair to say koalas are at risk of extinction? Koala expert and zoologist Bill Ellis from the University of Queensland says many parts of Australia, especially Queensland and New South Wales, are:

“The short answer is yes, we should be very worried,” said Dr Ellis.

Professor Carrick agreed: “They are in trouble, [but] it’s not a lost cause, “he said.

So how do we stop the koalas’ decline?

Number one priority

Excavator in between housing clearing trees.
Koala researchers say habitat destruction needs to stop if we are to prevent koalas from extinction.(ABC News: Stephanie Zillman)

It helps to think about the actions needed to preserve the koala as a hierarchy.

Of utmost importance – priority number one – is stopping habitat loss, according to koala microbiologist Peter Timms of the University of the Sunshine Coast.

That includes restoring degraded habitats and creating connectivity between patches.

“Habitat [loss] is the number one threat. If they don’t get a tree, nothing matters, “said Professor Timms.

Researchers have outlined several approaches to this problem, depending on whether we are talking about a rural or urban environment.

In urban environments, where the main threats are housing, industrial infrastructure and roads, preserving koala habitat needs to be a priority over development, according to Dr Hosking.

That means giving koalas a dollar value and a healthy environment.

“It’s not too late [to re-establish wildlife corridors] but it really comes back to the political will. Until the government is willing to say, ‘no, you can’t clean up there, but we’ll pay you to reforest’… that’s not going to happen. “

Small eucalyptus seeds.
Re-establishing wildlife corridors can help koalas and other wildlife move safely between food plots.(ABC News: Kerrin Thomas)

In rural areas, the pressure on koalas comes mostly from clearing land for agriculture and mining.

In many cases, regrowth is cleared to make pasture for livestock. For a farmer, allowing that regrowth to become forest means losing grazing area and income.

The large-scale solution proposed by many koala ecologists like Dr Ellis is to pay farmers to restore and maintain koala habitat.

“The real future here could be an incentive for people to include koala habitat on their land,” he said.

“There’s a lot of good farmland, but you don’t want to go bankrupt [farmers]. You want to make it feasible to have koala habitat in their country. “

He said farmers fear their land will be locked up and “pushed against the wall”.

And Dr Hosking agrees: “Money speaks. [Farmers] must have a reason for doing so. If there is an entry dollar value [standing] tree, they’ll stop pushing it. “

Priority 2, 3, 4, 5 …

A koala on a burning tree.
Wildfires are an increasing threat to koalas, especially in the southern states. But habitat connectivity allows areas to be repopulated after fires.(Provided: WIRES)

The reason habitat loss is priority number one is because almost all other threats are exacerbated by it.

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Koalas are more likely to be hit by cars if their habitat is fragmented by roads and they are forced to travel between patches in search of food.

They are more likely to encounter dogs when the urban environment interferes with their space.

And they are more prone to diseases like chlamydia when stressed.

Climate change and more intense bushfires and drought are other causes of koala decline, especially in inland areas where summer temperatures are becoming more severe, said Dr Hosking.

Expanding habitat and connectivity provides resilience to forest fires and means populations can regenerate from patches that don’t burn.

And while that can only help fight climate change, more trees means more carbon reduction.

Although tackling climate change is a long-term challenge, there is some more promising news regarding tackling chlamydia.

Sleepy koala on a purple towel.
Chlamydia is a disease that causes a variety of problems in koalas, including infertility and blindness.(ABC: Matt Wordsworth)

Even though chlamydia was already in the koala population when the Europeans arrived, we might make things worse, according to Professor Timms.

“The chlamydia in koalas is very similar to the chlamydia in sheep and cattle,” he said.

“There is little science to suggest that we might make things worse by bringing in [livestock]. “

But at least one vaccine is almost ready to launch, according to Professor Timms.

His laboratory at USC has been developing a single-shot vaccine over the past 10 years, with “very promising” results.

“We did a trial where we administered a vaccine to animals that were already infected with the disease. In six out of seven koalas it actually cured the disease and they could be released back into the wild without using antibiotics, which can have serious side effects,” he said.

It also appears to prevent disease in infected animals before they start showing symptoms, he added.

“We are now at a stage where we think that 90 percent of the basic research work has been completed. I am eager now to move this from the lab and into the real world,” said Professor Timms.

While restoring and protecting habitat is essential for koalas’ long-term survival, vaccines can help buy us some time.

“If you can stop these populations from becoming infertile then their reproductive rates will start to rise,” he said.

Pay attention to Catalyst’s Are We Killing Our Koalas? on iview now.

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Koala rescued after a stack of 5 cars on an Australian freeway | Strange news | Instant News


CANBERRA, Australia (AP) – A koala has been rescued after causing a pile of five cars while trying to cross a six-lane highway in southern Australia.

Police said an accident in heavy traffic Monday morning in the city of Adelaide caused several injuries but no one needed an ambulance.

The animal rescuer said he got out of his car to investigate what caused the pile. Nadia Tugwell, coat in hand, teamed up with the stranger holding the blanket to catch the marsupial. The concrete highway divider has blocked the koala crossing.

“The koala wasn’t completely damaged at all,” said Tugwell. “It’s very active, but very quiet.”

Once the koala was in its trunk, Tugwell went to the gas station to hand the animal over to a wildlife rescuer. For a while, the koala can climb from the trunk to the cabin of his SUV.

“He decided to come up front at me, so I said, ‘OK, you stay here. I’m going out, ‘”he said.

“It started sitting for a while at the wheel: (as if) saying: ‘let’s go for a walk,’ and that’s when I started taking photos,” he added.

Tugwell said he has learned from past experiences how to soothe koalas by covering their eyes. He lives near a eucalyptus forest outside Adelaide and has twice called in veterinarians to rescue koalas that have been injured in fights with other koalas.

“I live in the hills, and if you let them do what they want to do and you don’t go after them or anything, they’re fine,” said Tugwell.

The leather trim on his luxury vehicle was scratched by the animal, but Tugwell said the happy ending was worth the damage.

The koalas are then released in the forest – away from the freeway.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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More than 60,000 koalas affected by Australian ‘Black Summer’ bush fires | National | Instant News


SYDNEY – More than 60,000 koalas were among the animals affected by Australia’s devastating 2019-20 summer bushfires, according to a report released Monday.

The latest forest fire impact report by the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia found that in all nearly 3 billion animals were on the path of the fires that burned up to 19 million hectares in southern and eastern Australia.

Koalas in the states of New South Wales and Queensland were experiencing rapid decline before the fires.

The impacts of “Black Summer” on native species include death, injury, trauma, smoke inhalation, heat stress, dehydration and loss of habitat.

The report also revealed that about 143 million mammals, 2.46 billion reptiles, 181 million birds and 51 million frogs were in the areas affected by the flames.

The figures remain unchanged from the July interim report.

WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman said nearly 3 billion animals affected were “off the list.”

He announced that his organization is working on an “Australian Regeneration” plan, which includes “a bold vision to double the number of koalas in eastern Australia by 2050.”

“WWF is determined to help restore wildlife and habitat, rejuvenate communities affected by bushfires, promote sustainable agriculture and prove the future of our country,” said O’Gorman.

He said the number of koalas affected was “very disturbing” for a species already in trouble.

Under the “Koala Forever” plan, WWF-Australia will experiment with seed-spreading drones to create koala corridors and set up funds to encourage landowners to create safe koala shelters.

(c) 2020 German Press Agency GmbH (Hamburg, Germany)

PHOTO (for assistance with images, call 312-222-4194): ENV-AUSTRALIA-FIRES-KOALAS

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Australia announced a $ 18 million koala protection fund | Instant News


ANKARA

The Australian government on Monday announced a $ 18 million package to protect koalas across the country.

In a statement, Environment Minister Sussan Ley said that under the new strategy, a national audit of the iconic marsupial population will be a key component of a $ 18 million package to help protect Australia’s endemic species.

“The essential koala package will include funding for health research and medical support, as well as restoration of key habitat sites through on-the-ground actions such as replanting, weed control, fencing, managed grazing and tailored fire planning and execution,” said Ley. .

Launching the initiative at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo, he said koala audits would help direct commonwealth, state and private funds to where they would do best for the species.

“For all of our focus on koalas, scientists are telling us that there is a serious lack of data on where the real population is, how they are and how best to help them recover after the devastating wildfires,” he said.

According to the minister, all state governments are required to report koala populations and conservation strategies annually.

Under the new move, $ 2 million will be invested in koala health research and veterinary support, tackling challenges such as Chlamydia and other diseases that are the second leading cause of koala deaths after striking in animal hospitals.

The remaining $ 14 million will help restore affected koala habitat in forest fire and non-forest fire-affected areas and provide targeted funding for koala habitat in northern New South Wales and southern Queensland.

Meanwhile, endangered species commissioner Sally Box said this increase in funding came at a critical time for koalas, following devastating wildfires that killed and injured thousands.

“Today’s announcement will support the conservation community to respond to the devastating 2019-20 summer wildfire season impacting critical habitats for koalas and other threatened species across Australia,” said Box.

* Written by Islamuddin Sajid


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