Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)
Walk through the many National Parks on the mountain and you may be privileged to see a koala sitting up in the treetops. You won’t see him in the rainforest but in the lighter forests on the edge where his favourite food grows (the Tallowwood and Forest Red Gum trees are particularly tasty).
If you live near the edge of the forest and hear a baby crying loudly in the middle of the night, by all means check your offspring, but it could be koalas calling - they can range widely at night. They also have a peculiar grunt that needs to be heard rather than described.
Originally koalas were widespread in this part of SE Queensland, but the population was decimated by hunting and is now threatened by continued clearing of habitat.
This fellow was snapped by our photographer, Chris Edmondson, late at night, at the Witches Falls National Park picnic ground. The koala was crossing the road, changing trees! However, he did not seem to mind being a photographer's model, and, unwisely, Chris even managed to get a feel of the fur. Unfortunately, the red around the eyes could be early signs of Chlamydia, but Chris was not equipped to perform an arrest and take him/her to a vet.
Note the 2-3 arrangement of fingers on the front paws which helps them climb and to grip their food. Note also the long claws which make it inadvisable to try to pick up even a sick koala without substantial protection (see the ‘unwisely’ above)!
For more details on koalas visit the Australian Koala Foundation website and Friends of the Koalas website
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