Koalas of Kangaroo Island - Teachers Notes

Video highlights from Koalas of Kangaroo Island

Upper Primary and Junior Secondary

TELEVISION PROGRAM        

Koalas of Kangaroo Island: A Race Against Time

LEARNING LEVEL          

Upper Primary, Junior Secondary

CURRICULUM RELEVANCE    

Science, Biology


PROGRAMME DESCRIPTION FOR TEACHERS

Kangaroo Island lies some 13 km from the tip of South Australia's Fleurieu Peninsula. Protected by the Southern Ocean's storm-tossed waters, the island is home to some of Australia’s most popular native wildlife. Kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, echidnas, sea lions, fur seals, leafy sea dragons and numerous other species have all found a niche in this isolated island environment. But Kangaroo Island has a dark secret unknown to most people. Its koala population is a feral pest which is having a devastating impact on the native flora and fauna of this unique, natural paradise.

In 1920, as a precaution to stop Australia's diminishing koala population from going extinct, 18 koalas were introduced to Kangaroo Island from the mainland. Today, that population has multiplied to a massive total of 27,000. Without careful management, the island’s environment will be changed forever.


BACKGROUND INFORMATION FOR TEACHERS

Thanks to a wide range of habitats and relatively few introduced pests, Kangaroo Island is one of the world's last unspoiled island wildernesses.  While the koala is rarely considered as a feral species, it has unfortunately become a major threat to the balance of life on Kangaroo Island. Koalas love fresh, juicy leaves, especially the regrowth at very tops of trees. As a consequence of exploding numbers of koalas picking the freshest leaves, targeted trees suffocate and die. The trees' inability to regenerate impacts all the native animals that depend on them, including parrots, possums, wrens, bees and many other tree dwellers.

Moreover, the koalas' preferred eucalyptus trees on Kangaroo Island are the rough-bark manna gum and the South Australian blue gum, both riparian species that hold the island's myriad creek and river banks in place. Continued wholesale destruction would not only wipe out these trees but cause widespread erosion, adding to the degradation of the island's ancient inland ravines and gullies.

Kangaroo Island's limited space means there simply isn’t enough food for the koalas to survive. In the near future the Kangaroo Island koalas will probably starve to death. It’s a race against time to save them. Culling koalas was the first, dramatic step taken towards controlling their ever-increasing population, but this was quickly met with a huge outcry. Australians questioned how they could kill their ‘native’ fluffy koala bears and destroy such a high-profile international mascot for the continent.

Since then, South Australia's Department for Environment and Heritage has invested more than a million dollars annually into a new solution: capture, sterilisation and relocation. Australian rangers remove the feral koalas from their treetop homes and transport them to Kangaroo Island’s local vet where they are tagged and de-sexed. The koalas are then airlifted to the South Australian mainland where they live in a secluded forest. Koalas of Kangaroo Island documents this vital race against time.

 

CURRICULUM POINTERS

Upper Primary Curriculum
Science is a dynamic, collaborative and creative human endeavour arising from our curiosity and interest in making sense of our world through exploring the unknown, investigating universal mysteries, making predictions and solving problems.
Australian Science K-10 Curriculum 2010: Rationale


Junior Secondary Curriculum
The science curriculum addresses the diverse needs of Australian students by providing them with scientific knowledge, understandings and skills to make informed and responsible personal, social, technological and environmental decisions that impact at the local, national and global levels and to participate, if they so wish, in science-rich careers.
Australian Science K-10 Curriculum 2010: Rationale


CURRICULUM OUTCOMES

 

Upper Primary
In undertaking these tasks, students of Science will develop:
•    an interest in science and a curiosity and willingness to explore, ask questions and speculate about the changing world in which they live
•    an ability to communicate their scientific understandings and findings to a range of audiences, to justify their own ideas on the basis of evidence, and to evaluate and debate scientific arguments and claims whilst respecting alternative viewpoints and beliefs
•    an understanding of the diversity of careers related to science
Australian Science K-10 Curriculum 2010: Aims


Junior Secondary
In undertaking these tasks, students of Science will develop:
•    an ability to communicate their scientific understandings and findings to a range of audiences, to justify their own ideas on the basis of evidence, and to evaluate and debate scientific arguments and claims whilst respecting alternative viewpoints and beliefs
•    an ability to solve problems and make informed, evidence-based decisions about current and future applications of science while taking into account moral, ethical and social implications
•    an understanding of historical and cultural aspects of science as well as contemporary science issues and activities and an understanding of the diversity of careers related to science
Australian Science Curriculum 2010: Aims
 

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