A PROLONGED series of heatwaves across most of Australia has put koalas at risk of heatstroke.
Koala Action Group president Debbie Pointing said environmentalists were so worried about the effects of parched conditions on wildlife they were putting water containers for thirsty animals.
“Koalas and all wildlife would be struggling with these ongoing dry hot conditions,” she said.
“Just last week I sent a message to our database asking community members to consider placing a container of water at the base of trees in areas known to be frequented by koalas.”
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The greater Brisbane area is usually known for its sweltering, humid and stormy summer weather but this season few tempests or sustained rainfall events have been recorded so far.
A lack of rainfall meant January was shaping up to be the driest on record for parts of Queensland.
Weather Bureau meteorologist Dave Crock said a high pressure system had stopped rain clouds from forming across Queensland skies.
Hot air had been building up since late last year across Australia with no cold front to push it away.
This had contributed to a series of heatwaves across most of the country, parching out vegetation and heightening fire dangers.
University of Queensland researcher Dr Bill Ellis said it appeared koalas were suffering in the unseasonable dry heat.
He said koalas were resilient but soaring temperatures and dry conditions over prolonged periods could cause them to become sick.
Koalas were hydrated from water in eucalyptus leaves they ingested but they stopped eating when it became too hot, he said.
“Koalas can go for a few days without eating, if they have to,” Dr Ellis said.
“If there is too many days when it is too hot, they don’t eat.
“Unless it cools down, if gets to a point they can’t meet their water requirements.”
Dr Ellis urged people to restrain dogs, including at night, to make sure any koalas climbing down from trees were not hurt.
He said koalas that were sick could sit on the ground for days, making them vulnerable to attacks.
Report sick or injured koalas to Redlands Wildlife Rescue on 3833 4031.
For more information about the Koala Action Group, visit their website at koalagroup.asn.au.