[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
LANGUAGES
Chinese
Vietnamese
Indonesian
Burmese
Thai
More
Last Updated: Saturday, 9 August, 2003, 02:05 GMT 03:05 UK
Birth control for Australian koalas

By Dominic Hughes
BBC correspondent in Sydney

In Australia about 3,000 females in a colony of koalas are to be administered contraceptive drugs after eating most of their habitat.

Koala
The koalas are the victims of their own success
Park rangers in the southern state of Victoria are worried the animals could face starvation if their population is not controlled.

There are now an estimated 10,000 koalas in Mount Eccles National Park in western Victoria - a huge increase in population after just 77 were introduced to the area about 25 years ago.

But the thriving colony has created a problem. The koalas have eaten about 70% of their favourite food - leaves from the manna gum tree.

Without drastic action, park rangers fear the trees could die back altogether and then the koala population would quickly starve to death.

Previous efforts at sterilising the koalas have failed.

So now, rangers plan to capture 3,000 females and implant a small tube under their skin which will release the same hormone that women take in the contraceptive pill.

It is a project that carries some risk. The koalas could develop tumours, and the Australian Koala Foundation has criticised the scheme as unnecessary and cruel.

But it is a method that has been used successfully with other animals, including marsupials, primates and big cats.




SEE ALSO:
Dead koalas in safety drive
24 Jul 02  |  Asia-Pacific
20,000 koalas face slaughter
31 Oct 01  |  Asia-Pacific
Call for action on koalas
26 Jul 01  |  Asia-Pacific
Australia finds its lost animals
06 Sep 00  |  Science/Nature
The making of the marsupials
03 Dec 98  |  Science/Nature
Timeline: Australia
27 Jun 01  |  Asia-Pacific


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific