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Wildlife : Furry friends

Midnight Visitor at Middle Path

Midnight Visitor

Midnight Visitor

In the middle of one night, late in September, we were rudely awakened by the sound of something violently attacking our bedroom door with a hard, sharp and heavy object.

At such times there is a moment when the imagination is fully operational and in overdrive before the reasoning and logical faculties become functional.

And so it was with our hearts in our mouths that we switched on the light to confront our doom at the hands of some enraged demon of the night.

It became immediately obvious that we were dealing with something far less intimidating - a Koala had decided that the french doors were suitable for climbing and was repeatedly jumping at them to get a grip - the noise was the sound of his claws stiking the glass and then the muffled thump of his somewhat inelegant return to the ground.

This continued for some time until it became obvious that he was not going to be satisfied until he had climbed a tree. Efforts to relocate him produced a bellow worthy of an outraged african elephant and effectively dissuaded us from picking him up.

Plan B

Despite the hour we contacted friends who cared for wildlife - Wilvos - who directed us to a 24-hour help line.

While Trijntje talked with a Koala expert I set about locating something which would pass for a tree in the middle of the night. An unused bird-feeder base came to light and was placed next to the still-doggedly leaping bear.

To no avail, the little critter was determined to conquer the door.

Plan B - plunge the house into darkness and shine a torch on the branch - was put into effect and withing a minute or so the puzzled Koala noticed the "tree" and effortlessly waddled up its length.

However as its weight tipped the balance the whole lot collapsed in a heap on top of the dog kennel, the koala firmly gripping the branch which was now on top of it.

Plan B

"Safe" at Last

"Safe" at Last

It was evident that the visitor was much happier hanging on to something which felt like a branch and was quite calm - despite being pinned down on top of a dog kennel.

At least our bedroom door was not being attacked any longer!

A foot on the end of the branch brought it upright again, the Koala quickly got on top of things and settled down in a comfortable position to await developments.

Things were really going quite well - considering how I felt when the whole thing began, I could hear Trijntje receiving reassurance from the phone, the visitor was now calm and looking slightly superior - I was out in the cold with my foot holding the perch in place.

A large pot plant was quickly manouevered into place to wedge the koala's perch and I was able to resume independent movement.

First priority of course was these photos - I was finding it hard to believe that here was one of Australia's mythical drop-bears right on our bedroom doorstep!

It transpired that this was a fairly normal occurrence - it was a male Koala who was "on the prowl" for a mate.

It seems uncanny that of all the places he chose to attract our attention - it was the bedroom door which he tried to climb!

He was totally uninterested in either of we humans - and eventually we left him to his solitary perch.

About an hour or so later I heard him working his way through the pot plant to resume his nocturnal wandering.

A classic pose

Koala Factoids

Koalas aren't bears. They aren't even related to bears. The koala is related to the kangaroo and the wombat. The koala is a mammal. The reason the koala is called a koala bear is because the koala looks like a teddy bear. The koala's scientific name is Phasclarctos cinereus.

Now there are only 2,000 to 8,000 koalas in the wild! Although not officially classified as endangered, the population of Australian koalas has dropped by 90% in less than a decade!

This is due to the destruction of the koala's natural habitat, a narrow crescent on the eastern coast of Australia. Logging, agriculture and urban development have not only reduced the area available to them, but added other dangers. The koala's habitat has been criss-crossed by roads, resulting in many road kills and attacks by neighboring pet dogs are frequent. Disease, too, has taken its toll on the koala.

Just how horny does a bear get?

Not that much!

You must be Joking!

A solitary life.

Continue your exploration of wildlife at Middle Path......
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