The Koalas of Kangaroo Island

When Mathew Flinders discovered the island in 1802 it was teeming with kangaroos but there was not one koala. Koalas were introduced to the island in the 1920’s . There were just twelve of them, brought to the island in the hope of saving the animal from extinction. Foxes, dingos and fur traders were decimating the population on the mainland. There were none of those predators on Kangaroo Island.

The idea was a huge success. The twelve koalas loved their new home, settled in quickly and started doing what was expected of them. Reproducing.

Despite the fact that the koala appears to be one of the laziest animals in the world, sleeping for up to 22 hours a day, they appear to have a very successful sex life. But true to form, the male koala manages to perform the act while using very little energy. When he is in the mood he finds a comfortable “v” of branches to sit in, makes himself comfortable and then starts emitting a loud and rather strange booming grunting noise. Then he sits and waits.

Any females in the area hear the grunts and get the message loud and clear. Then they decide whether the grunt appeals to them. If it does, and she has the energy to do something about it, the female searches out the male .

Now you must admit, this has grinder and tinder beat by a mile. So much simpler and it doesn’t even involve putting out photos of yourself taken when you were 10 years younger and 20lbs lighter.

However at this point things take a turn for the worse. Sex between koalas is a rather aggressive act. The male roughly mounts her from behind, bites her neck rather viciously, and performs the deed in a matter of seconds. It might be good for the male, but the female is so disappointed she will never mate with this particular male again. Every year she finds a new partner in the desperate hope that this time it will be better. It never is.

Sound familiar?

But however disappointing the experience, it works. By 2019, before the great fire, the population of koalas on the island had grown to an estimated 60,000. A huge success.

But was it?

The lovers of these adorable creators were ecstatic.

Others were not. They have become the topic of a heated and often vitriolic public debate. The koalas are steadily chewing eucalyptus trees to death, Wherever the koala goes a path of destruction with dead and dying trees follows. Trees that are desperately needed to prevent soil erosion. Add to that the fact that the koalas on the island are so highly inbred that they may be of little use in bolstering northern Australia koala populations, then the reason for the debate becomes clear.

Sadly the devastating fire has done what the debaters couldn’t achieve. Something between 40 and 50,000 koalas died in the fire. Some estimate there are as few as 5,000 koalas left on the island.

We are beginning to believe that. We cannot find one koala. Eventually we decide to go to one of the rescue homes for koalas that did such a wonderful job during and after the fire.

At last we see koalas. True to from, they are all sleeping, but they are so darn cute

Isn’t that reason enough to keep them?

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2 Responses to The Koalas of Kangaroo Island

  1. Bonnie says:

    I saw them only in captivity also. Got to hold one in Queensland.

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