Koala: A Historical Biography

Front Cover
Csiro Publishing, 2008 - Nature - 246 pages
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The koala is both an Australian icon and an animal that has attained flagship status around the world. Yet its history tells a different story. While the koala figured prominently in Aboriginal Dreaming and Creation stories, its presence was not recorded in Australia until 15 years after white settlement. Then it would figure as a scientific oddity, despatched to museums in Britain and Europe, a native animal driven increasingly from its habitat by tree felling and human settlement, and a subject of relentless hunting by trappers for its valuable fur. It was not until the late 1920s that slowly emerging protective legislation and the enterprise of private protectors came to its aid. This book surveys the koalas fascinating history, its evolutionary survival in Australia for over 30 million years, its strikingly adaptive physiognomy, its private life, and the strong cultural impact it has had through its rich fertilisation of Australian literature. The work also focuses on the complex problems of Australias national wildlife and conservation policies and the challenges surrounding the environmental, economic and social questions concerning koala management. Koala embraces the story of this famous marsupial in an engaging historical narrative, extensively illustrated from widely sourced pictorial material.
 

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Contents

1 The land that waited
1
2 Science and art
15
3 Putting the animals on the map
31
4 The upsidedown world
51
5 The indigenous people
71
6 Field and metropolis
87
7 Fire fur and guns
113
8 The literary koala
131
10 The new protectors
155
11 Being and doing
179
12 The survivor?
195
Up close and personal
213
Select bibliography
223
Illustrations
235
Index
239
Copyright

9 Colin MacKenzie and the amazingkoala shoulder
145

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