Wednesday, 21 May 2014


Koalas were designed by nature to sit in trees and eat gum leaves. Two hundred years ago their trees were mostly navigable above ground, and their ranges took in areas where the water table sat higher for longer, so they had no need to drink. Apart from being occasional fodder for a Powerful Owl or python, there was little else they needed to do.
Today, with 80% of eucalypt forests cleared or severely modified, koalas must come down to earth for many reasons. Moving to new feed trees, escaping from a fight, seeking water in drought, looking for mates or searching for their own territories are all reasons for them being seen on the ground more often.
This means inevitably they must cross at least one, or whole networks of roads, and where traffic volumes and speed limits are high there is small hope for a lumbering little koala. Annually some 300 koalas are killed on Queensland's SE roads alone. For an already nationally threatened species this is a tragic and unsustainable loss.
While avoiding them is often impossible, there are some Dos for drivers that lessen the risk of becoming one of those horrified drivers responsible for killing a koala.
·         Do slow down in zones with koala warning signs, even if only fractionally - the slower pace will be a reminder to stay alert and watchful.
·         Do set a personal limit of 80kph on country roads. Most are unsafe to travel at higher speeds, even where the actual limit is 100kph, and you might also save that annoyed driver following from hitting an animal, maybe a koala, and maybe another car.
·         Do add the local wildlife care group to your mobile's contact list, and include any in planned travel locations. Call the group immediately if a koala is hit, and give location details even if it looks uninjured, and even if it runs off into the bush.
·         Do report any dead koalas. Details of causes and a body can greatly add to koala research.

- Patricia Edwards