Kangaroo Island Wildlife
The wildlife island!
Thanks to its huge size and low population (just 5000 people on an island the size of Manhattan); Kangaroo Island is where native Australian wildlife has thrived in the wild. Over two-thirds of the landmass is national park or wildlife reserves, most importantly, the island is free of mainland pest species like rabbits and foxes.
As a result, this is where it’s quite easy to see all those famous Australian animals, in their natural habitats. Kangaroo Island is home to kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, echidnas, duck-billed platypus and heath goannas.
The koala population in Hanson Bay is especially large; the Kangaroo Island kangaroo (a species found only on the island) is very active at dawn and dusk, but easily seen at Grassdale near Kelly Hill Caves.
Bird species are in abundance on the island, including rare glossy black cockatoos, Cape Barren geese, pelicans, white-bellied sea eagles, wedge-tailed eagles (Australia’s largest winged predator), kestrels and little penguins. For a remarkable bird display, visit Raptor Domain, a centre for injured birds. The owls, kestrels and wedge-tail eagles are superbly shown in a lively show by Dave Irwin, the cousin of Steve Irwin.
Along the coast look out for Australian sea lions (most easily seen at Seal Bay), New Zealand fur seals and dolphins. From May to October see migrating humpback and southern right whales.
Divers come from all over the world for the temperate waters (as well as the 50 shipwrecks), hoping to see blue devils, harlequins, truncate coralfish, boarfish and the mystical leafy sea dragon.
One of the best ways to look for wildlife is to take one of the many hiking trails on the island. Flinders Chase National Park has exceptional trails, many of them start in thick bushland and follow beautiful creeks. Explore caves, sit quietly beside pools (you may see the shy platypus) and listen for wallabies, echidnas and heath goannas in the undergrowth. Most trails end at stunning white beaches; don’t be surprised if you’re the only person on the entire beach.
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