The announcement by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk that all koalas in her State are now to be listed as vulnerable is welcome, if somewhat sad, news.
The cute cuddly koalas are not doing all that well and an audit of their numbers in the Sunshine State reveals losses between 2007 and 2011 at 16,000 and this listing, following a recommendation of an independent technical committee, means that State agencies will have to work closely with their local counterparts to ensure koala populations are mapped and factored into development as an environmentally significant species.
According to Ms Palaszczuk, dog attacks, car accidents and the consequences of urbanisation are having “a huge impact” and while I would be the last to disagree, you have to wonder if the koalas haven’t bought a lot of this increasingly desperate situation on themselves.
Just for starters, koalas would have to be some of the laziest animals on the planet sleeping anywhere between 18 and 22 hours a day asleep due to their diet which is based on eucalyptus leaves which are very fibrous and low in nutrition and calories. Perhaps if they could be taught to change their diets and take vitamin supplements they might get out and about more.
Some say that they are quite solitary – I say that they are just anti-social. They set up their own home range and rarely come across each other. Yes, during the mating season in spring and summer, there is a bit more interaction but not that much it seems.
Males don’t go to a lot of trouble to attract the ladies and just sit in their trees making loud mating calls, usually between midnight and 4am. The ladies are expected to come to them which quite of lot of men would agree is right and proper and the way nature intended and the mating calls – called bellows – give the girls some idea of the size of their prospective, if albeit temporary, hubbies. The good news for males who are not particularly well-endowed is that size is not necessarily important.
Once a male detects a female in his territory, he will actually go to the trouble of approaching her, sniffing constantly to check on her charms.
It’s here that things can get tricky.
Female koalas are very bloody picky and, disgracefully, they reject males more than they accept them. Then things can get ugly.
She will cry out if she doesn’t fancy him so the male does what any red-blooded stud would do and try and force himself on her – I’ve heard that is called rape – and she will bite, scratch and generally carry on to resist his advances. Is it any wonder that a lot of males just sit in their trees and are not more proactive in the mating game?
And even when the female does accept him, they don’t bother with any romance. According to a Queensland University koala expert Bill Ellis, “It’s not a particularly gentle process.”
The chap mounts his conquest from behind, bites the back of her neck and wham, bam it’s over and done with ma’am – it probably helps that he has a double-headed penis and that she has two vaginas – and off she does to gestate for a little over a month and she won’t be the least bit interested again until her cub is fully weaned in a year or so. The male, like all males irrespective of species, is ready for it again pretty damn quickly.
And if you want to understand another reason why male koalas don’t go actively hunting for female companionship and, indeed, why they sometimes have to really put their paw down when it comes to doing the deed, we can thank those koala experts at Queensland University again.
A fully documented research project has revealed that female koalas shamelessly indulge in raunchy lesbian sex sessions with their disgusting orgies involving up to five females at once. Scientists filmed 130 koalas in captivity – a sort of koala Big Brother project really – and were shocked to discover three homosexual interactions for every heterosexual one.
“Some females rejected the advances of males that were in their enclosures, only to become willing participants in homosexual encounters immediately after. On several occasions, more than one pair of females shared the same pole and multiple females mounted each other simultaneously. At least one multiple encounter involved five female koalas,” the scientists reported.
They’ve got theories about why this happens – maybe the females do it to attract males, maybe it is just hormonal or maybe it just relieves stress. Yeah, sure. My theory is that maybe they are just filthy deviates.
They’ll want to get married next.
Tell us, do you agree with Russell?