Drop Bears

By DeusExMacintosh

koala

Australia’s koalas could be wiped out within 30 years unless urgent action is taken to halt a decline in population, according to researchers. They say development, climate change and bushfires have all combined to send the numbers of wild koalas plummeting.

The Australian Koala Foundation said a recent survey showed the population could have dropped by more than half in the past six years.

Many have been killed by the sexually transmitted disease chlamydia.

Previous estimates put the number of koalas at more than 100,000 – but the latest calculations suggest there could now be as few as 43,000.

BBC News

20 Comments

  1. jc
    Posted November 12, 2009 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    I saw the program segment. I think it’s bullshit. How on earth climate change has affected them is untold.

    I think it’s a political ruse to have them registered as endangered to allow further control of the near environment where they live.

    In short it’s bullshit. A government scientist countered this view.

  2. pete m
    Posted November 12, 2009 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    They need koala condoms!

  3. Posted November 12, 2009 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    Cue condom jokes in 3…2…1…

  4. Posted November 12, 2009 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    Those islands with koalas should have all the infected ones culled, and then only healthy ones put on the island to bred without risk of passing on chlam, I reckon.

    I’d imagine if that /is/ a good idea, there’d be lots of folk who want to save koalas but couldn’t bear them being culled even if it would ensure a safe breeding range. Love to see the practical versus pathetic subsections of the koala-loving community having a stoush.

  5. Posted November 12, 2009 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    All blokes need their Mates!

  6. Posted November 12, 2009 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    Would Pell prohibit condoms for koalas, (or chimps with SIV for that matter)?

  7. Posted November 12, 2009 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    JC says:

    “I saw the program segment. I think it’s bullshit. How on earth climate change has affected them is untold.”

    The BBC link explains why.

    Koalas used to be relatively common in Mt Alexander Shire where I live but I haven’t met anyone who has seen one in recent years.

    13 consecutive years of drought in SE Australia combined with above average temps is pushing plenty of species towards extinction- the Regent Honeyeater for example is now down to a population of about 5 birds in Victoria according to the most recent count.

  8. jc
    Posted November 13, 2009 at 12:39 am | Permalink

    Mel:

    The drought:

    A former CSIRO statistician has presented fairly convincing evidence that the claims byt he CSIRO suggesting the drought was climate change related was bogus or at least didn’t stack up to facts. He showed that by using the same stats they were using drought and non drought conditions in the south east moves in 30 to 40 year cycles.

    Temps is also with the range of past levels or at least it’s so small that no one could seriously suggest it would kill off the bears.

    See niche modeling blog and hunt around for the published piece that demolishes the CSIRO announcement.

    How on earth could anyone count the population of that sub species to 15 birds. i would think it’s pretty close to impossible, no?

  9. jc
    Posted November 13, 2009 at 12:56 am | Permalink

    One other thing mel

    Koalas rarely drink water so unless you’re suggesting the drought essentially killed off the Eucalyptus trees they feed on, I find it very difficult to believe the drought has killed them off… the drought = climate change.

    Koalas eat eucalyptus leaves, but their preferred eucalyptus species vary from region to region. On Phillip Island, koalas prefer Tasmanian blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus – pictured), Gippsland manna gum (Eucalyptus pryoriana), manna gum (Eucalyptus viminalis), and swamp gum (Eucalyptus ovata) (Phillips 1990; Phillip Island Nature Park 1998). Koalas have occasionally been observed eating wattle, tea tree, paperbark, and pine species. The nutritional value of these alternative foods and what causes koalas to abandon their normal diet are not understood

    From what I understand Eucalyptus trees are also reasonably drought resistant too. So what gives?

  10. Posted November 13, 2009 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    ‘Love to see the practical versus pathetic subsections of the koala-loving community having a stoush.’

    It’s been happening in South Australia for years, with specific reference to chlamydia-infested-koala-infested Kangaroo Island. The government steadily refused to cull because it would be so damaging for the international tourism industry, especially those who (like the Japanese and the Americans, mainly) think ‘walas are just adorable and would be outraged to see them being shot. Farmers, in response to the govt ‘s inaction and refusal to accept the controlled-culling recommendations of a very cluey koala expert called Prof Hugh Possingham, were shooting them out of trees at night and then denying it in the morning.

    Clive Hamilton gave a hilarious presentation once at the Adelaide Festival of Ideas, a deadpan proposal to the SA govt that it should package organised koala shoots for American tourists; it would, he predicted, be so successful that they’d end up with not enough koalas and have to breed them to be shot. Unpack that, all you Hamilton-haters.

    In recent times, however, I imagine the fact that Kangaroo Island pretty much burnt itself out down to the waterline one or two summers ago will have gone a long way towards solving the problem. Of course, global warming didn’t have anything to do with the ferocity of the fires.

    /sarc

  11. Posted November 13, 2009 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    I was bucketing water to this winter/early spring’s’plantings from 6pm to 4am this morning. My arms and legs are aching, my eyes are bloodshot and I’ve got at least 20 self-induced scratches from fending off hungry mossies. It simply isn’t supposed to be this hot at this time of year!!!!!!!

  12. conrad
    Posted November 13, 2009 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    “From what I understand Eucalyptus trees are also reasonably drought resistant too. So what gives?”
    .
    Actually, if you look at the history of koalas (they have it at the Phillip Island centre where they breed (?) them), they were once much more dispersed. However, as the climate changed, and Australia got drier, they died out in many areas. Thus it isn’t surprising that if Australia is getting drier, they are dieing out in more areas.

  13. jc
    Posted November 13, 2009 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Conrad:

    Phillip Island didn’t suffer a big drought? I know this factually.

    You dudes are simply making this shit up as you go along, aren’t you.

    How do you know Phillip Island was so dry it couldn’t sustain trees that take in little water?

  14. jc
    Posted November 13, 2009 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Well, there you go, just because I generally dislike Hamilton doesn’t mean that he’s all bad, or totally without a sense of humour

    I honestly couldn’t imagine Hives breaking into a laugh or making other people laugh as he has far too much to worry about in terms of saving the world.

    (some would say saving the world from hives, but of course I wouldn’t) 🙂

  15. Posted November 13, 2009 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    There’s a Koala Conservation Centre on Philip Island. http://www.penguins.org.au
    There was, at one stage, a very large colony of koalas on French Island so it probably wasn’t very far to move them for the greater convenience of the tourists coming down to see the penguins …

  16. jc
    Posted November 13, 2009 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    Phillip Island forms part of Gippsland and although the region also suffered drought at times it was nowhere near the severity elsewhere. In fact it was an oasis in comparison to North west Victoria.

    How has “climate change’ caused the collapse of the Bears in Phillip Island when their food supply was essentially unaffected?

  17. Posted November 13, 2009 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know about those islands, but the Otways of my youth, where I’d see koalas, are much diminished for mere woodchips, and whether from water stress or saltier ground, outside that forest, I see dieback, tress living but with gnarled brown fingers at the top, previously covered in leaves.

    Also, failure to manage koala populations in has lead in some isolated green pockets to starvation.

    Chlam is a sneaky infection, especially in females, “silent” until infertility and chronic pelvic inflammatory disease result. It’s even more silent in chronically infected males – with the men silent about occasional symptoms. I’m actually hoping that the problem in koalas raises awareness – I suspect that incidence in koalas is known more accurately than that in humans (the estimate is that at least a third of infections remain undiagnosed – but there are huge known unknowns, and reinfection from untreated partners seems sadly common).

  18. conrad
    Posted November 13, 2009 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    JC,

    I was just talking about the centre as the place where info is. I wouldn’t have the foggiest about koalas living there. They just have some nice info there which shows that once upon a time, koalas were all over the place, but now they’re not due to climate change over the millenia. This of course isn’t surprising, since most of the places they have disappeared most big tree have too. I imagine the density of trees is also important, so if there arn’t enough trees, they simply die out. That is of course a likely consequence of climate change.

  19. jc
    Posted November 13, 2009 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    Conrad:

    The trees these critters eat have been sent to California as the freaking things don’t need much water and the song popular in the 70’s (?) is true. ” it never rains in california”… 🙂

    These critters are gone because of other reasons, but it ain’t climate change.

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