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Koala Bears: cute, cuddly, come from Australia, and close to extinction.. Right?
...Wrong! ....Well, maybe. It depends on who you talk to.
Cute? Adorable!
Cuddly? Better not if you don’t want to kill the object of your affection.
Australian? Yes.
Endangered? That will depend on how conservationists and wildlife experts look at the problem and try to solve the Koala quandary.
The quandary isn't underpopulation, it's overpopulation, and it's a very well guarded and politically sensitive secret. In some parts of Australia, Koala bears are so numerous they are destroying their own habitat. With the Koala's natural predators, the "dingo," (Australia's wild dog), and Aborigine hunters no longer a threat, there is nothing to keep its population in check - except the availability of habitat and food.
Our film will take a look at the current dilemma facing conservationists of this adorable species. Koalas' rites advocates are passionate and vocal about the need to protect Australia's Koala population, down to the last animal.
Conservationists say they are trying to save an entire species and to do so means some individuals may have to be sacrificed.
The problem is this: With Koala habitat shrinking and Koala populations growing daily, conservationists are busy relocating and sterilizing animals, a temporary solution with an outrageous price tag. They will soon run out of places to put the animals, and meanwhile the problem grows in scale along with the population.
Many experts contend that the most humane -cost effective solution- would be to cull the Koalas (selectively hunt). Absolutely unacceptable to the Koala's adoring public.
Conservation, say conservationists, is not about saving the cutest individuals, conservation is a cold science. All over the world many species are culled, a practice accepted with no outcry, it is the Koala’s cuteness which is causing the problem.
Along with the elephant and the lion, the Koala bear ranks in the top three most charismatic animals on the planet. His appeal may be linked to a resemblance to human babies: the proportion of the head to the body, the shape of the face, and the way the eyes stare straight forward lovingly into yours.
It is not surprising that elephant conservationists are faced with a similar dilemma to the Koala bear.
Lessons from southern Africa will be compared with lessons from Australia to see that the problem is not just limited to one species or one continent.
Another notable Australian species, the Kangaroo (funny looking at best), is regularly culled with very positive results for a fraction of the cost. The problem with Sterilization and relocation, besides the expense, is that these methods take an enormous toll on the animals. The stress threshold of Koala's is so low that they can die from too much handling, much less capture, sedation, sterilization and relocation.
But is killing really a more humane solution? The Koala’s rights people say no.