Commonwealth Games mascot in danger of extinction

A drastic decline in koala numbers has led to a renewed focus by the State Government and local not-for-profit organisations to find an urgent solution.

Queensland Environment Minister Dr Steven Miles, at a luncheon to mark Save the Koala month, has launched a new online survey to call for Gold Coaster’s views on koala management in the state.

“The survey will be used, in part, by our newly appointed koala expert panel in the development of recommendations for future strategies to ensure the long-term survival of koalas in the wild,” Dr Miles said.


ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER THIS ADVERTISEMENT


The survey includes questions such as: What are the threats that are having the greatest impact to koalas in your local area? Can you recommend measures that could address these threats? Do you record koala sightings in your area?

Local conservation groups also used Save the Koala month as an opportunity to highlight the need for urgent action – particularly with a growing population, urban sprawl, and more developments in areas such as East Coomera.

Nicole Taylor from the Coomera Conservation Group called on the City of Gold Coast to do more with regard to wildlife corridors.

“We’re losing habitat, and we’re losing it fast with the total land clearing for the Coomera Town Centre and all the high density housing that’s going on in the East Coomera area. Koalas are in dire straits – their habitat is diminishing very, very quickly,” said Ms Taylor.

“We’re proposing initially that we have an updated study. We really need to know how many koalas we have now, their health, and where they’re traversing to.

“But, critically, we need to establish an East Coomera Koala reserve,” she said.

Aldwyn Altuney, the Founder of Animal Action Events, added that everyone needed to be more conscious of the local koala population – particularly in the lead up to the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

“The koala is our mascot and, if we’re not careful, we won’t have any koalas left in the wild by the time the games come around. This is absolutely tragic for the Gold Coast and tragic for Australia,” said Ms Altuney.

“In the Gold Coast area we’ve only got about 4,000 left now, and ten years ago there was about 25,000.

“We’re losing about six a day, or about 40 a week. And, just in the last week, Wildcare had ten koalas that had been hit by cars brought in to them – that’s absolutely shocking.”

Ms Altuney gave some advice on what locals can do to protect koalas.

“Contain your dogs at night if you’re in wildlife corridors – particularly around koala areas,” she said.

“Drive slowly at dusk and dawn. Sometimes these koalas are sitting in the middle of the road because they like the warmth of the asphalt. A lot of these koalas are being found hit right underneath the koala signs!”

“Also, plant eucalyptus trees. We need more trees for the koalas – they need a lot of gum leaves to survive,” said Ms Altuney.

Minister Dr Steven Miles explained that the Queensland Government was also extremely concerned that the koala population was still declining, despite a number of state-funded protection measures that have been in place for the past 20 years – including care and rehabilitation services, population surveys, the Moggill Koala Hospital, and the Daisy Hill Koala Centre.

“However without these existing measures,” he said,”there is the potential that the decline may have been significantly greater.”

To have your say on koala management in Queensland, visit www.getinvolved.qld.gov.au between until 21 October 2016.