Australian koalas smarter than average bears

Sydney:The iconic Australian koala has been found to be smarter than an average bear, a new study says. The koala population is on the verge of extinction in Queensland state, which has prompted authorities to build key passages across major roadways to keep wildlife safe as urban development sprawls, Xinhua news agency reported. In a world's first study, researchers from Griffith University used new technologies to track the movements of the bears through the crossings, or tunnels, over a 30-month period after originally being sceptical the structures would not actually work. The crossings were implemented across southeast Queensland as part of a state government programme to stop koalas from becoming roadkill. "We expected the animals to take a while to get used to them. To our great surprise, they were using them three weeks into it," Griffith University professor of environmental ecology Darryl Jones said in a statement on Tuesday, adding the team comprehensively monitored 130 man-made koala passages. The team used a range of technologies at the same time, which allowed researchers to not just generically monitor whether koalas passed through the crossing, but pinpointed individual koalas and the exact time they entered and left the tunnel. "That's a world first," Jones said, adding "Nobody has done that so comprehensively before."