Koala and kangaroo — two of Australia’s iconic marsupials.

Unlike placental mammals, which develop inside the uterus, marsupials have short-lived placentas that only nourish young for a few days before birth.  The period between conception and birth is therefore comparatively shorter for marsupials.  Newborn marsupials can be born without eyes or hind-legs but they still manage to climb up to mother’s pouch (this may just be a fold of skin or something more substantial), and cling to the nipple for milk, in lieu of the placental nourishment.  This enables them to grow and develop outside the womb.  For more information on marsupials, check out this informative website, CSIROscope.

A couple of months ago, I ventured out to one of Canberra’s wildlife reserves.  Tidbinbilla is a 54sq kilometre reserve situated on the fringes of the Australian Alps.  As well as being an important research and breeding facility for some of Australia’s endangered animals, Tidbinbilla is also home to a small number of koalas.  Most of the koalas live in a large multi-hectare enclosure. When I visited, a number of trees had been signposted where koalas had last been seen.  But koalas being koalas, they had moved on.  We had to be contented with the three koalas residing in a smaller enclosure.  It was still a thrill to see them, especially the baby clinging to its mother.  At feeding time, rangers brought in branches pruned on site.  Boy, those koalas can eat a lot of leaves!  The trimmed branches must be delivered very speedily to the waiting koalas as the leaves rapidly lose their nutrition once pruned.

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There has been a rapid decline in koala numbers in Australia, and koalas are listed as vulnerable in Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.  It is estimated that their numbers may be as low as 40,000 across Australia.  Their longer term survival is increasingly tenuous as development collides with climate change.  Every day threats include rampant de-forestation and urban expansion, vehicle strike, and predation by dogs.  With so much habitat already lost and populations fragmented, koalas are more susceptible to the effects of drought, climate change (sea water incursion on coastal trees, wild fires) and disease.  Recent bush fires in Queensland and northern NSW, starkly illustrate this point.  Clearing of blue gum plantations and ferocious heatwaves in recent years in Victoria and South Australia, mean koalas may become vulnerable in these states too.  Who can forget the heartbreaking images of koalas drinking from backyard pools and dog drinking bowls during heatwaves?  Normally they would get enough moisture from leaves.

I can’t help think their days at Tidbinbilla are also numbered.  In the event of a catastrophic bush fire, likes the one that occurred in 2003 which completely decimated the resident koala population, their fate seems sealed.  They cannot escape from their enclosures.  Last month’s bush fire was very close to Tidbinbilla, and I was exceedingly anxious until I heard that the reserve had been spared.

It has been estimated that koalas create over 9000 jobs and contribute between $1.1 billion and $2.5 billion per year to tourism in Australia.  If money talks, you would think governments would take climate change a little more seriously.  I guess tourists don’t donate to political parties like large mining companies do.

I thought you might also enjoy some photos of that other “K” marsupial – the kangaroo.  Kangaroos are plentiful at Tidbinbilla, both in and outside the kangaroo enclosure.  But life is hard these days.  The extended drought means there is little pasture for grazing.  So more kangaroos are on the move, including many that are pushed deeper into urban areas, where they regularly encounter the car (one bumped into me the other night), or become trapped in small areas of fragmented bush land that cannot support a large  population.

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Despite the drought, kangaroo numbers are still plentiful, however over-grazing is a real problem as it upsets delicate ecosystems, threatening other endangered species.  While in farming communities, kangaroos compete with stock for food, leading to demands to drastically cull the number of roos.

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This is my response to the Ragtag Daily Prompt — Connect.  Because kangaroo and koala both start with ‘k’ and they are both marsupials.  Good enough.

I have some photos of some Tidbinbilla wallabies and potaroos  (so cute) that I will share with you next time.

Kind Regards
Tracy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

39 thoughts on “K Is For ….

  1. Many years ago, I had a penpal from Australia so I love reading your posts. The last photo of the kangaroos is beautiful, Tracy. And the little koala…so cute. But they do have some pretty long claws, don’t they?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the photos and commentary. Yesterday I almost got lured into a stupid exchange on Facebook after the public broadcasting network posted a piece on climate change. I am amazed by how people can’t step back and look at a bigger picture. Even more amazed by those who think what they believe has anything to do with reality and by those who think borders on maps are “real.” I had the sense to go away and not look back, but it is incredible that people haven’t noticed for their own selves how much worse hurricanes are now than they were twenty years ago or how many more giant fires flare up all over the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Maybe they do notice, but think it is not their fault. Etc, etc. Or if they think it is just natural climate variability, then unless that fundamental belief can be changed, then there is no point in arguing or stupid exchanges. Do you think it would make a difference to point out that the Pope believes in climate change? Congratulations on resisting the urge.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have no idea what people think — I think the “fault” thing is probably there since we live in a blame world now. I could not believe our dumbass president saying he didn’t want to use American money to pay to clean up what other countries had done. Of course his fan base was all about that. 😦

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful photographs Tracy, the koalas look so adorable and it’s so sad they are in decline while deforestation continues. I don’t know how successful WWF and other organisations are in protecting them – it sounds as if more can be done by the government too 💜

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It doesn’t to me either; I try my best… but I live in a province that rejects our federal government’s carbon tax, many of my colleagues spouses and acquaintances rely on oil for their income, so I feel sometimes outnumbered, and I tread lightly with my words.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I can understand why you would do that, Heather. I worked in a culture like that for 30 years and was not well regarded for my views. Still, I never felt my life was threatened, just my career prospects. It was the price I was prepared to pay. But when it is family and friends you are in disagreement with, then that’s another story.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I was very sad to read about the fire over in the Nelson Bay Area as there was a koala population threatened there. I hope some of yesterday’s rain fell on the area. The outrageous land clearing that goes on in this country needs to be halted, but I can’t see that happening any time soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope they got some rain too, Jane.

      I hear certain groups (LNP) were trying to blame the Queensland fires on stricter land clearing laws adopted by the Qld Labor Government in May, following massive deforestation allowed by the Newman Government. On the other hand, farmers are happy to secure carbon credit units (which they can sell) for reforestation projects under the Emissions Reduction Fund. Totally bizarre.

      Like

    1. I agree, Ann. Coincidentally I heard an interview yesterday where the speaker said that making it to the endangered list in Australia virtually guaranteed that said animal would eventually become extinct, because under our environmental legislation, there was no requirement to ensure that the habitat of such animals was protected. Usually ineffective conditions were put on development.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. An important criterion for me is weight of the camera due to an old arm injury. The Nikon P60 was the perfect weight. I’ve had two more cameras since then but they were heavier and cumbersome.

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