Another famous koala - from Norman Lindsay's Magic Pudding
"Sam, we were all so glad to hear of your rescue, which gave us hope that the world would realise the plight of you and your fellow koalas and other wildlife in Australia and that our politicians might then wake up. We enjoyed seeing that you had made a friend at the wildlife shelter and it seemed that your future looked comparatively rosey. We are now so sorry to hear that you are no longer with us."
Sam was actually a female koala and, soon after she was rescued, she became fast friends with a male koala who was recovering in the same shelter.
Sam was a victim of controlled burning, not of 'bushfire'
Sam was a victim of the practice of "controlled burning-off" to prevent bushfires. She was not actually a victim of an out of control bushfire. Burning-off is a practice of which the frequency is criticised soundly and scientifically here. In many cases it benefits loggers and land-clearers. Managed and thinned forests are overwhelmingly more frequently linked to uncontrollable bushfires than old growth forests. There is a case for burning off on ridges which are prone to lightening attacks, but, as writers argue in these pages, we should use an entirely different approach to fighting fires in Australia.
Although Sam became known, admired, and undoubtedly loved, by millions of people, due to the terrible fires last February in which hundreds of people died and over a million native animals died, she actually succumbed to chlamydia.
Chlamydia in koalas
Chlamydia is a disease which was found to be epidemic in a number of koala populations about 20 years ago. Since then, the mixing up of different populations in new places in an effort to save the species from extinction due to traditional habitat destruction, has probably contributed to a rise in the incidence of infections. Stress in its own right is also an obvious likely factor in the prevalence, seriousness and chronicity of this illness.
Chlamydia bacteria occur in many different animals, including humans. In koalas clamydia can infect the urinary tract the genetical tract and the respiratory tract. It may cause infertility and blindness and the animal may die from these. They get pink rimmed eyes and cannot keep themselves clean due to incontinence.Source:
How safe are koalas in Australia?
Koalas only live on the South and South Eastern coast of Australia and most wildlife carers consider them in danger everywhere. Unfortunately the way that animals are classified as threatened and endangered in Australia means that you have to wait until the entire population of koalas Australia-wide is on the brink of extinction. Meanwhile, as we head quickly towards this situation, local and regional populations are being extinguished with barely a protest registered in the mainstream media and with only the merest token gestures from parliamentarians.
Wildlife Carers finance most of their work themselves, with little help and much hindrance from the government. People around the world who may read this: please place pressure on our Australian State and Federal governments to start protecting our wildlife instead of killing them through neglect or demonised as 'pests'.
In some cases koalas are endangered by being marooned by human development, so that they cannot get out and they exhaust the food trees where they are boxed in and die of starvation, fighting and disease. Throwing animals together from different populations, without a normal population structure means that these artificially created new colonies lack brakes on reproduction which occur normally through incest avoidance and the Westermarck effect.
However, the greatest direct killer is loss of habitat due to suburban development. This loss of habitat is driven by the growth lobby which has caused Australia to become severely overpopulated to the extent that we are now running out of water and land for farming and for wildlife is being stolen for human development. This means less water and less land for animals and forests.
Koalas are also killed by dogs, humans, stepped on by cattle, and run down by cars.
Brigitte Bardot's site has a very good page on this, devoted to Victoria's Mornington Peninsula Wildlife carer, Jenny Bryant's Koala Refuge.
But koalas are also loved by many Australians
As you can see from this page
In Australia one of our most famous books was Norman Lindsay's The Magic Pudding, where the hero was a Koala called Bunyip Bluegum, who left his home because he couldn't stand sharing it with his untidy uncle.
This picture shows him eating outside to avoid watching his uncle drag his whiskers in his soup. You can see that Bunyip is being importuned by two small goannas, who want hand-outs.