The koala is native only to Australia and can be found on the nation’s eastern side from northern Queensland to Adelaide in South Australia. It is a tree-dwelling marsupial with a round body and sharp claws, and depending on its location, can double its average weight from 6kgs (13 lbs) in the north to 12kg (26 lbs) in the south. Koalas also have unique physical attributes including opposable thumbs, which are ideal for climbing trees and picking eucalyptus leaves.
Koalas prefer a habitat of tropical, sub-tropical and temperate forests, as well as woodland and semi-arid landscapes that feature eucalyptus trees. As their diet is restricted to the foliage of eucalyptus, A koala’s range is directed affected by the health of this tree species. Koalas have been known to sleep for up to 18 hours a day, as the nutrients derived from eucalyptus are minimal, forcing to both a lot and to preserve their energy.
Learn more about Koala Facts, here.
While some areas have seen their local koala population decline, others have seen increases to the point of requiring conservation management, including relocation and sterilization. There are areas in the state of Victoria, in particular, where populations are now seen as unsustainable because of how large they have become. If unchecked the downstream impacts on eucalyptus trees would mean the localized destruction of their only food source. Conversely, areas further north are seen as threatened due to human impacts such as urbanization, habitat loss, and farming.
As a nation, Australia has taken a case-by-case approach to koala conservation, placing certain koala communities in protection, while encouraging increased population limits in others.
Additional Resources and References:
Austalian Deptartment of Environment and Energy