Koala: Bushfires in Australia | 23 Jan 2020

Why in News

Australia is in the grips of a nationwide bushfire emergency which has severely affected wildlife.

  • It’s been estimated that 1.25 billion native animals have perished in the Australian bushfires, including koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, echidnas and more.
  • Koalas are among the first animals to perish in wildfires because the slow-moving creatures can’t outrun the flames.

Key Points

  • Koala is (Phascolarctos cinereus) an arboreal (lives in trees) marsupial.
    • Marsupial: A marsupial is born in a very incomplete state. They are minute, hairless and with hind limbs only partially formed. Around 2/3rd of them live in Australia. The other third live mostly in South America.
    • Instead of the placenta, the mother’s milk nourishes the young and allows it to grow and develop.
    • Although the word ‘marsupial’ comes from the Latin word ‘marsupium’, which means ‘pouch’, not all marsupials have pouches.
  • They are endemic to Australia.
  • Due to the low nutrient levels of the Eucalyptus leaves they feed on, the koala can sleep up to 18 hours each day.
  • IUCN status: Vulnerable
  • Threats: Habitat destruction, climate change & severe weather (Droughts, extreme temperatures).