How to help wild koalas – tip 1. Fight Climate Change in every way you can. Climate Change is the biggest danger to koalas, and all our wildlife. A recent study has shown that koalas die if forced to live at regular temperatures over 37 degrees Celsius. This finding is supported by our own research. In most of the places koalas live wild, these temperatures are becoming more common.
Even if you live in Europe or North America, your efforts to combat climate change do make a difference down here. So thankyou for everything you do!
Pat with baby Banjo on a hot summer day
How to help wild koalas – tip 2. Trees! We need trees! Native forest is precious and should be protected – we have already lost so much, we can’t afford to lose any more. Plant new trees too – if koalas have plenty of good habitat they will have a chance against climate change.
If you’re planting native forest for koalas, don’t just plant Manna Gum (E. viminalis). Plant what is suitable/indigenous for your area. Koalas need mixed forest, with plenty of choices. In the You Yangs their preferred tree is River Red Gum, but they must have Yellow Gum, Ironbark and Blue Gum as well – they use different species at different times of year. Cherry Ballarts, wattles, Grey & Red Box are used as well.
Even if your area isn’t naturally home to koalas, planting native vegetation will help koalas indirectly – everything is connected and by helping other species the ecosystem is stronger. Same applies outside of Australia. Look after your natural environment and you will help koalas.
Koalas don’t just use trees for food – they are roosting sites, lookout points, nest/bed, a way to get out of the heat or cold… This is Cloud relaxing in a Gum-tree fork.
How to help wild koalas – tip 3: Water! Yeah, we know – koalas don’t drink! Well, actually they do sometimes…. If it’s very hot, or they are old or ill, or if there’s been a drought they need water.
We’ve also noticed that large water bodies seem to attract koalas, especially in summer. Even if those koalas don’t drink from the waterhole, they seem to like the trees near it. Have you ever noticed how much cooler it is downwind of a lake on a hot day? Also maybe the trees around water are in better condition.
Here’s a picture of wild female Zelda drinking from a man-made dam after 12 years of drought. She was an old lady (15+years) but she lived another 1.5 years after this. Maybe it kept her going!
Many Aussies who live in the bush put out dishes of water for the birds. It’s fantastic! You might find a koala enjoying your water one day. Make sure the water is well away from the house, people and dogs – wild animals will only come near people when they are desperate. If you have a dam on your property and can keep it topped up in summer you might find koalas congregating around it!
Rainfall is the best sort of water though – and the only way we can make sure of that is by addressing climate change. So keep up all your good work in other parts of the world – you will help koalas too!
Zelda drinking from a man-made dam (waterhole) on a very hot day.
How to help wild koalas – tip 4: Slow down on the road! Koalas climb down out of their tree every day and walk along the ground to another tree. They do this at all times of day and night. Sometimes this means crossing a road – eek!
If you’re driving through forest, take it slowly and scan the roadsides for wildlife about to cross. We think that 80km/hour should be the maximum speed limit for highways through national parks, state forests and conservation areas, and less on minor roads.
If you see a koala (or kangaroo) beside the road, slow right down and toot on your horn before you get to it. The sound might make them act. If not, put your hazard lights on and drive slowly around them (only if safe), giving them as much space as possible.
If you see a koala in the middle of a road, park your car safely with hazards on, and making sure you are safe, get out and shoo them off the road. Your approach should make them move. If it doesn’t, try making more noise. Don’t try to grab them unless you know how to do it safely – koalas can defend themselves vigorously! Throwing a blanket over them is the only really safe way. If you can do this easily, there is a good chance that the koala is sick or injured. Call a wildlife carer, or the local vet.