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Art & Our World | Endangered Species Series


Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)

Average Weight: females - 5-8kg, males - 6-12kg

Grouping: predominantly solitary with complex social hierarchies based on a dominant male with territory that overlaps several females and sub-ordinate males on the periphery

Range: Australia - NE Queensland to Eyre Peninsula in the south

Habitat: temperate, sub-tropical and tropical forests, woodlands, and semi-arid eucalypt areas

Population: fewer than 80,000 in the wild, may be as few as 43,000

Diet: 70% eucalpyt species, 30% other foliage

The koala is a native Australian tree-dwelling nocturnal marsupial. It is predominantly grey colored and spends most of its time in the trees. The koala will come down to the ground to switch trees. It has long, sharp claws adapted for climbing.

During their breeding season, the males advertise themselves with loud, snarling coughs and bellows. Females start breeding at the age of 2 and will produce one offspring per year.

The koala is continually threatened by a number of things: urban expansion, disease, habitat loss, vehicle strike, predation by dogs, and they are increasingly susceptible to drought and climate change.

The koala is listed as 'Vulnerable' in most regions in Australia, though research from the AKF suggests that it be listed as 'Critically Endangered', especially in the Southeast Queensland Bioregion. There is no legislation in Australia that effectively and consistently protects the koala's habitat. The legislation my exist in the law, but there is no political will to "adequately resource, implement, police, and enforce" the laws.

Sources: Australian Government - Dept. of Environment, NSW Government Environment & Heritage, and Australian Koala Foundation

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