May 3, 2017 marks the second Wild Koala Day, an initiative started by Koala Clancy Foundation in Victoria to raise awareness of declining populations of koalas in Australia and the need to protect their habitats. Wild koalas are found in all of eastern Australia, however populations are declining across the country. Victoria and South Australia are the only regions in Australia where koalas are not in severe decline – with Victoria being the best place for guaranteed koala sightings in the wild.
The Koala Clancy Foundation is a not for profit incorporated association and registered charity set up to support the wild koalas in Victoria. The Foundation began in July 2015 in response to a 46% decline in koalas in the You Yangs over the seven years from 2007 to 2014.
The foundation takes over and supports the conservation and research work of Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours, a social enterprise nature tour operator.
Wild Koala Day enscourages all koala lovers around the globe to get involved and upload their photos to social media tagging #wildkoaladay
Here are the five most common myths about koalas as reported by Janine Duffy from Echidna Walkabout Nature Tour:
- Koalas are drunk/stoned on eucalyptus NOT TRUE There is no alcohol in eucalyptus leaves. Koalas rest because they have a low nutrient diet.
- Koalas eat only one type of gum-tree NOT TRUE Koalas have been found to eat hundreds of species of eucalyptus.
- Koalas are slow NOT TRUE Koalas can run at 32km/hr and leap up a tree in two metre bounds
- Koalas are docile and love to be cuddled NOT TRUE Healthy wild koalas are not docile and will usually defend themselves if a human tries to touch them. Even in captivity, scientific studies have shown koalas become stressed when humans approach within five metres.
- Koalas are overpopulated NOT TRUE Koalas around Australia are declining in every state except South Australia. There are five to six well-publicised populations of koalas in Victoria and South Australia that are over populated, but they are the exception, not the rule.