Koala – UPSC Prelims

Koala:
  • Koala is an arboreal (lives in trees) marsupial.
  • A marsupial is born in a very incomplete state. They are minute, hairless and with hind limbs only partially formed.
  • Around 2/3rd of them live in Australia. The other third live mostly in South America.
  • Instead of the placenta, the mother’s milk nourishes the young and allows it to grow and develop.
  • They share a number of characteristics with wombats, who are their closest living relatives, including a backward-facing pouch.
  • Habitat:
    • The typical habitat for Koalas is open eucalypt woodlands, and the leaves of these trees make up most of their diet. In terms of societal behaviour, Koalas are asocial animals and typically emotional bonding is seen only between mothers and dependent offspring.
    • They are endemic to Australia.
    • Due to the low nutrient levels of the Eucalyptus leaves they feed on, the koala can sleep up to 18 hours each day.
  • IUCN status: Vulnerable
  • Threats:
    • Habitat destruction, climate change & severe weather (Droughts, extreme temperatures).
    • Australia’s Koala population has been on the road to extinction for over two decades now.