September is Save the Koala Month (STKM). Australia’s much-loved icon, the Koala, was declared functionally extinct by the Australian Koala Foundation (AKF). The AKF thinks “there are no more than 80 000 Koalas in Australia. This is approximately 1% of the eight million Koalas which were shot for fur and sent to London between 1890 and 1927.” Each September the AKF invites the public to help save our Koalas through month-long festivities: 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of STKM. This year’s theme is “I Need a Hero”. Chairman of the AKF, Deborah Tabart OAM, says: “everyone who stands up to protect Koalas and participates in STKM is a hero in our eyes and this year we want to celebrate them. The highlights of my week are hearing amazing stories from people all over the world who are passionate about saving Koalas”. Penelope, a young girl from Florida USA, after reading a book at school about Koalas in danger decided she’d help. She now teaches her classmates about Koalas and says “I want to move to Australia when I grow up to help the Koalas”.
Facts about Koalas
1. Koalas are marsupials, not bears. Baby koalas develop in their mother’s pouch for about six months. They then ride on mum’s back for another six months, only using the pouch to feed and sleep.
2. They’re fussy eaters! Koalas eat fewer than 50 of over 700 eucalypt species (poisonous to most animals) eating up to a kilogram a day. Their fibre digesting organ detoxifies the leaves.
3. ‘Koala’ is thought to mean ‘no drink’ in Aboriginal language. They do drink during heatwaves and droughts.
4. Koalas sleep up to 18 hours a day. Eucalyptus leaves are low in nutrients; koalas need more sleep helping them conserve energy.
5. Koalas are losing their homes to excessive tree-clearing. With their trees gone, koalas spend more time on the ground in search of food and shelter when they’re vulnerable to being hit by vehicles, dog attacks and falling ill to stress-induced diseases.
There are many ways to be a hero and participate in Save the Koala Month: order a donation box for your workplace or school, using the STKM certificate kit to fundraise in your local community or adopting a Koala through the AKF website. The AKF is the principal non-profit, non-government organisation dedicated to the conservation and management of wild koalas. The AKF, formed in 1986 under the direction of Chairman Deborah Tabart OAM, aka ‘the Koala Woman’ seeks the enactment of the Koala Protection Act, similar to the Bald Eagle Act (1942), and Koala conservation zones. Money raised from STKM enables the AKF to update the Koala Habitat Atlas and ensure that all Koala habitats are protected with enactment of the Koala Protection Act.
If you’d like to be a hero and participate in Save the Koala Month visit: savethekoala.com/how-to-help/save-koala-month. A great way to get involved is by ordering a donation box or holding a fundraiser with the AKF official certificate kits.