Terrified koala in gruelling grill trip

A koala that was struck by a taxi near Maryborough was later discovered clinging to the car’s grille at a service station almost 90 kilometres away.

Local vet Geoff Collyer was called to the scene after the taxi driver and his passengers stopped for petrol in Gympie and noticed the animal.

The frightened marsupial was attempting to wander . . . → Read More: Terrified koala in gruelling grill trip

Aiding endangered offspring

Kakapo Auckland ZooOne thing zoos are very good at is neonatal care – a critical function when it comes to species conservation. The degree of intervention depends on the species and situation. In some cases, newborns need 24-hour care to ensure their survival. Others simply need a predator-free haven to survive.

Kakapo chick Heather One would never have made it without intensive intervention by a team of dedicated vets and nurses at Auckland Zoo.

The kakapo, one of the rarest and heaviest parrots in the world, is endemic to New Zealand. These flightless, nocturnal birds breed only every three to four years, with breeding depending on fruiting of rimu and other native New Zealand berry-producing trees.

With less than 130 in the world, kakapo are listed as critically endangered. The biggest threat appears to be predation by rats. Of 21 chicks born between 1981 and 1994, nine were likely killed by rats, although it is difficult to rule out the possibility that some of these may have died and subsequently been eaten by rats.

In 1990, a Kakapo recovery program – a partnership between the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC), New Zeland Aluminum Smelters and Forest and Bird – was established to ensure the survival of the species. Kakapo were transferred to several islands including Little Barrier Island (Hauturu o Toi), Codfish Island and Anchor Island, in a number of successful translocations. Continue reading Aiding endangered offspring

Team maps koala genome

Koala_climbing_treeIn a joint project that is also likely to benefit the conservation of other threatened and endangered species, a team of researchers from the Australian Museum, the Queensland University of Technology, Australia Zoo, the University of New South Wales’ Ramaciotti Centre, and the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, recently announced it had achieved the ‘holy grail’ of understanding the response of koalas to the infectious diseases currently threatening their survival.

The initial draft of the koala genome sequence has identified genes implicated in the animals’ diet as well as their immune systems, including the koala interferon gamma, or IFN-g gene, a chemical messenger that plays a key role in the marsupial’s defence against cancer, viruses and intracellular bacteria.

Peter Timms from QUT’s Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, said the IFN-g gene was the key to finding a cure for chlamydia and koala retrovirus, and its discovery would make it possible to fully test the effectiveness of vaccines on wild populations of koalas.

“We know koalas are infected with various strains of chlamydia, but we don’t know why some animals go on to get severe clinical disease and some don’t. We also know that genes such as IFN-g are very important for controlling chlamydial infections in humans and other animals. Identifying these in the koalas will be a major step forward in understanding and controlling diseases in this species,” Timms said. Continue reading Team maps koala genome

Extinction fears held for koala

Picture: Pumpmeup.

Developers may be placing koalas at their greatest ever risk of extinction according to conservation groups.

The ABC reported that it has obtained a copy of the Federal Government’s draft guidelines regarding how industry determines if its activities will affect habitat.

Critics of the guidelines claim the proposed amendments will give developers too much power. In NSW, Queensland and the ACT, developers are required to account for koala listings when making building applications.

The Australian Koala Foundation are campaigning against proposed changes in which developers will conduct their own sustainability assessments of habitat areas they wish to occupy.

The controversy comes in the wake of evidence that suggests koalas are extinct on the NSW far south coast. Continue reading Extinction fears held for koala