David Clements photo

Green Beat: Crikey I’ve seen a koala!

Columnist David Clements shares adventures from the land down under while on sabbatical in Australia

  • Jan. 15, 2018 11:24 a.m.

By David Clements

Since late December I have found myself in a land down under. I’m on sabbatical here in Australia, engaged in a research project on a global invasive weed, mile-a-minute with my colleague Leslie Weston and her team at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga.

So I didn’t exactly come here to study marsupials, but my wife and I have already made many forays to seek out unique Australian creatures.

One of our most memorable expeditions was to the Narrandera Nature Reserve where a handful of koalas were reintroduced to the Eucalyptus forest there back in 1972. The site now boasts a population of over 200.

That afternoon as I ventured into the forest, I kept scanning the tall Eucalyptus trees along the Murrumbidgee River with binoculars, hopeful, but after a while I despaired of seeing any.

Then I saw a movement in the forest. Suddenly they burst out of nowhere a few meters in front of me. Two swamp wallabies bounding through the forest…beautiful creatures!

Just a few minutes later, with my heart still racing from the wallaby encounter, there it was. Just a few meters away, a koala on the ground. It clambered up a small tree and I breathlessly snapped the photo that appears here. Crikey!

As I stared dumbfounded into the eyes of this fair fellow creature, it was hard to believe the sorry history koalas have had with humankind.

The Australian aborigines utilized koalas for food, but healthy populations existed throughout the continent until the arrival of Europeans in the 1700s. Thereafter deforestation consumed large areas of koala habitat, and the animals were hunted for their pelts with millions shot up to the 1930s.

Fortunately by 1927, there was a worldwide outcry over the potential disappearance of koalas and President Roosevelt made a law against possessing koala fur in the U.S.

Since then, many initiatives have been made to protect koalas. However, with their populations relatively small and fragmented, koalas are suffering from low genetic diversity.

The University of Adelaide’s Corey Bradshaw told Wild magazine: “Obviously reforestation in certain areas would help immensely, but first the genetic diversity issue must be addressed and this will require introducing a number of healthy individuals from genetically distinct populations. Until that happens, the entire species is at risk of total extinction in the wild over the course of the next 50 to 100 years.”

Indeed, I hope efforts to keep these animals in our world are successful. Take it from me, seeing one in the wild like I did is…unforgettable.

David Clements, Ph.D. is Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies at Trinity Western University



Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

By-invitation meet-and-greet for Township council candidates draws flak

Organizer rejects complaint it amounted to a slate, calls suggestion a ‘conspiracy theory.’

Updated: Major power outage affects 1,400 Hydro clients in Langley

Cable fault cited, power not restored till late in the evening, Hydro says

Langley rower captures silver at world championships

The women’s eight makes a come-from-behind charge for back to back world championship medals

Fraser River First Nations say they aren’t getting their share of sockeye

Shortage is a result of decisions made by DFO, not a shortage of sockeye, complaint says

Aldergrove Mall site becomes election issue

Letter from developers supporting current Township council sparks flurry of responses

Video: Flyers new mascot ‘Gritty’ a bearded, googly-eyed terror

The Philadelphia Flyers unveiled their new mascot Monday, and as one would expect of the team that gave us the “Broad Street Bullies,” he’s far from cuddly.

Vancouver, Delta police won’t use new roadside saliva test to detect pot

The Dräger DrugTest 5000 is designed to find THC, the high-inducing part of marijuana

Canada aiming for the moon, and beyond, with new space technology efforts

With an eye on future lunar exploration, Canada’s space agency is calling on companies to present their ideas for everything from moon-rover power systems to innovative mineral prospecting techniques.

New Brunswick Premier meets with lieutenant-governor as Tories, Liberals vie for power

New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant said the only other leader he had spoken with since results came in was Green Leader David Coon.

Trudeau looks to restart Canada’s UN charm offensive in New York City

Freeland says the question of job retraining in the 21st century — and the uncertainty that surrounds it — is the federal government’s central preoccupation.

Calgary mayor seeks person who leaked details of closed-door Olympic meeting

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says he will ask the city’s integrity commissioner to investigate a leak of details from an in-camera council meeting.

South Surrey boy, 10, to help kids in need

Ronin Bulmer, 10, is going door-to-door asking for donations

B.C. MP Cannings spared brunt of Ottawa tornadoes

MP Richard Cannings was spared the impact of the tornadoes that hit the Ottawa region

Edmonton cannabis company revenues more than triples to $19.1 million

Aurora Cannabis revenues more than triple in fourth quarter

Most Read