Koalas are at risk from dehydration and heat stress in summer.
Koalas are at risk from dehydration and heat stress in summer. Contributed

Heat a big risk for koala population

EXCESSIVE fur and a taste for eucalyptus leaves are two of the more obvious differences between koalas and people.

Yet there are similarities too, some of which can be deadly.

Dehydration and heat stress affect koalas the same as they do humans, and with the recent streak of hot weather and more expected as summer rolls on, the already endangered species is at increased risk.

According to animal experts, the heat sucks the moisture out of leaves and the grass turns brown and dries off, forcing koalas to migrate towards areas which have an abundance of water - like residential and urban developments.

With koalas on the move, though, the chances of them also being hit by cars go up too.

Taking a break from the heat.
Taking a break from the heat. Contributed

Gympie's Koala Action Group said 10 koalas have been hit by cars on Gympie's roads this year, with only two surviving.

Six of the dead koalas were males of prime breeding age.

Hot spots were injured or dead koalas were found have been the stretch of road between Glastonbury, Tin Can Bay Rd at Kia Ora, and the Mary Valley Hwy between Gildora and Calico Creek.

Compounding the problem, KAG said, not only is it mating season but summer is when younger koalas will also be leaving their mothers to find their own territory.

READ MORE: Carelessness killing our koalas

KAG said a number of sick koalas have been found in the region recently, and are asking residents to help keep them hydrated through the season.

A container of water at the base of a tree in a known habitat is all it could take to save a furry friend - but remember to change it regularly to avoid your garden becoming home to a buzzing gang of hostile mosquitoes.

Signs of dehydration or heat stress are easy to identify, including loss of balance, confusion, lethargy or unresponsiveness.

Another sign the koala might be in distress is if they do not move away when you approach.

A koala looks for somewhere cool in the middle of a 37 degree day at Southside.
A koala looks for somewhere cool in the middle of a 37 degree day at Southside. Contributed

Anybody who sees a koala they believe to be in distress, and are unsure of how to help, is asked to please call ANARRA wildlife rescue on 54849111.

Queensland Koala Rescue is another organisation which you can reach out to for assistance on 0423618740.

KAG also asked people who see a koala who has been hit by a car, or believes they may have hit one themselves, to call rescuers with its exact location even if it is dead, as it will still be of help to animal welfare efforts.

Gympie Times


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