The Conversation By Kevin Markwell (extracts from a post)
Koalas are the face of Australian tourism. What now after the fires?
… Up to 30 per cent of the koala population from the NSW mid-north coast is expected to have been lost in the fires, alongside 50 per cent from Kangaroo Island — the last remaining wild population not infected by deadly chlamydia.
Eighty-four years on from the Rockhampton Evening News’ story [see article which talked about saving koalas from extinction in 1936], we are still talking about the possible extinction of koalas, our national tourism icon.
The loss of a tourism icon: A 2014 study suggests koala tourism could now be worth as much as $3.2 billion to the Australian economy and account for up to 30,000 jobs. In 2020, Australia has 68 zoos and wildlife parks exhibiting just under 900 koalas. A photograph with a koala is a must-have souvenir for many international tourists.
These catastrophic fires have compounded the threatening processes that already affect koala populations: habitat destruction and fragmentation, disease, car accidents and dog attack.
Recent research has shown koalas are also vulnerable to climate change through changes in the nutritional status of eucalyptus leaves, excessively hot temperatures and these canopy-destroying wildfires. The long term survival of the koala ultimately rests with governments and their policies on forest clearing, fire management and climate change.
If future tourists to Australia are to experience the koala in the wild, it is imperative that governments act now to strengthen the protection of the species and most crucially, its habitat.
Kevin Markwell is a professor in tourism at Southern Cross University. This article originally appeared in The Conversation.
From Port Macquarie Hastings Council website 15.8.19 & 8.8.19
From Port Macquarie Hastings Council website 15.8.19 & 8.8.19
“Koalas have been roaming Australia for millions of years, becoming known as one of our most iconic marsupials, and arguably one of the biggest drawcards for local tourism.
At more than 2,000 our local koala population is one of the largest in NSW, however there are a number of threatening factors that require hard work and collaboration between all levels of government and passionate community groups to ensure these little guys continue to be a part of our identity for many years to come.More recently, koala crossing zones have been signposted on Ocean Drive, and a world-first ‘koalas living with dogs’ pilot training program has delivered great success, desensitising 19 dogs from attacking koalas…“ read more
07 August 2019
New signage for Koala awareness
“Due to the increased road strike statistics for Koalas along sections of Ocean Drive, a new temporary digital signage board has been erected between Elkhorn Grove and Matthew Flinders Drive…
The koalas were moved about 40 kilometres from their habitat and into the Gold Coast Hinterland.
Queensland Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said in a statement that they fared better than the population that remained in Coomera.
“The 180 koalas that were translocated from the East Coomera site between 2009-2014 had a better survival rate compared to those that remained at the site,” she said.
“Over the five years, koala losses due to disease, predation or road trauma totalled 50 per cent for the resident group that remained at East Coomera, compared to only 42 per cent for the relocation group.”
Berejiklian government changes the law so koalas in Port Stephens can’t be listed as endangered
Extract from a report written by Damon Cronshaw for the Newcastle Herald posted 19th December 2017
“The Berejiklian government has destroyed the chances of the Port Stephens koala population being listed as endangered,” Kate Washington says. Ms Washington, the Port Stephens MP, asserted that reclassifying Port Stephens koalas from vulnerable to endangered would have enabled these iconic Australian marsupials to receive more support and funding… Koalas are listed as vulnerable in NSW. However, the independent NSW Scientific Committee made a preliminary finding that the koala population near Port Stephens was endangered because it was “facing a very high risk of extinction in the near future”… The scientific committee estimated the number of mature koalas in Port Stephens at about 800, but said it could be fewer given recent fire history…People were working hard in Port Stephens to “bring our local koala population back from the brink of extinction”.
“In contrast, the NSW government has sold off prime koala habitat to a developer and legislated against higher protections for our local koala population,” she said Ms Washington.
[The koala population in the Port Macquarie / Hasting LGA on the mid-north coast is thought to be a low as 2,000 with the prospect of extinction with 25 years. While Koala politiKs are being played out the koala is slipping ever closer to extinction.]
read the full article
LIVING WITH KOALAS and the KOALA HOSPITAL, PORT MACQUARIE reply sent to the EDITOR
It was extraordinary to see a Public Notice ad (paid for?) in the Camden Haven Courier (Dec 13th 2017) from the Koala Hospital proclaiming that they had no association with me (G Henshaw) founder of LIVING with KOALAS. I am assuming that only the staff of the Hospital and misinformed volunteers needed to clarify that. Since the launch of the LIVING with KOALAS initiative on World Threatened Species Day (7th September 2017) I have had meetings and correspondence with the Port Macquarie Mayor, councillors, state and federal politicians, local media, businesses, school principals and hundreds of concerned individuals who are all very clear that LIVING with KOALAS is not part of the Koala Hospital. I am so supportive of the great work the Hospital does and we may indeed raise funds to donate to their charity. We particularly promote the fantastic work of Landcare and guide people to their websites if anyone wants to make a charitable donation. LIVING with KOALAS is not a charity or a Government Organisation. We are a social enterprise. We are utilising business, marketing and creative skills to raise awareness and money to help with the plight of koalas in the wild. And, as I now live in the Camden Haven, we are focussing at launch (with a planned national roll out) on the plight of the the local Port Macquarie/Hastings koala population now thought by the Koala Hospital and Council to be few as 2,000, with the real threat of extinction within 25 years. Clearly more voices are needed for this vulnerable species. Full details of our work can be found on www.lwk.net.au
*In an interview with Cheyne Flanagan in Focus Magazine, Port Macquarie Sep 2016 edition and later repeated in the Koala Hospital publication Gum Tips she said:
“When G approached me with the concept, I thought it was a great idea and loved the writing and illustrations he was proposing. The only stipulation I made was the facts had to be accurate. It’s great to have an accurate informative book about koalas… although written with humour, it highlights the real dangers facing this sadly threatened species. Raising awareness of the plight of koalas can only be … a Good Thing.”
[Cheyne Flanagan and other members of the Koala Hospital read through the first draft of The Good Thing About… Koalas and suggested some minor corrections. The book was also read by a number of Zoo keepers and university students studying koalas. All factual information about Koalas – K Facts – was taken from the websites and books of reputable organisations and authors.
FURTHER POSTS click this link KOALA POLITIKS we will be using this space to comment on other reported koala politikal activities including a visit and request to Bookface in Port Macquarie not to stock The Good Thing About… Koalas book; telephone call to Dr David Gillespie’s office; plus a few affidavits… human action, never surprising, often disappointing.
Living with Koalas – a Social Enterprise
Using the power of the marketplace to solve the most pressing societal problems, social enterprises are commercially viable businesses existing to benefit the public and the community, rather than shareholders and owners.
….we define social enterprise as organisations that: Are driven by a public or community cause, be it social, environmental, [conservation], cultural or economic
Derive most of their income from trade, not donations or grants
Use the majority (at least 50%) of their profits to work towards their social mission
Mechanic fixing to save koalas: a Port Macquarie mechanics business is hoping to fix more than broken vehicles – they are also aiming to save our dwindling koala population… “I was shocked when I discovered just how low the number of wild koalas is in this area [Port Macquarie]” said Corey Siviour of APPS Mechanical… read full article. The Good Thing About…Koalas fundraising book now available to purchase here.
Thumbs up to Nathan Smith owner of Bonny Hills Garden Centre Café – he is a big supporter of the Living with Koalas programme. He and his staff will be promoting and selling the newly published book The Good Thing About… Koalas.
Nathan said “I spoke with G Henshaw [founder of Living with Koalas] some months ago when he discussed the idea of setting-up an initiative to help with the conservation and regeneration of wild koalas in the area. i was a big supporter, especially as we used to have a regular koala visitor to the cafe which, sadly was run over and killed some while ago. We are happy to sell the books as we know most of the proceeds goes to the local schools ‘nurture koala food trees programme’.
The book is part of a series of books called The Good Thing About… which G Henshaw, one of the originators and author, had published in UK by Penguin. This is the first time the concept has been used for conservation purposes. And local artist Ben Creighton has illustrated the charming book.
G calls it a KIDULTS book. “Entertainment and education for children; information and motivation for adults.”
The Koala is now listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as Vulnerable with numbers rapidly decreasing and facing the real threat of extinction within 50 years.
“Incredibly”, said G Henshaw, “there are some expert predictions saying the wild koala population in the Port Macquarie / Hastings area could, effectively, be locally extinct in under 25 years. With as few as 2,500 left remaining in the region today. Habitat loss is by far the biggest threat. As a ‘Pommie Aussie’ it’s inconceivable that we could knowingly stand by as we watch the gentle koala slowly lose its battle for survival. We should all hang out heads in shame if we are the last generation to see healthy populations of koalas in the wild in Australia.”
You can purchase a copy of The Good Thing About… Koalas book online here.
Here is an extract from the Huffingpost (7.11.17) and an inteview with Ian Darbyshire, CEO of the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife in Australia
Australia is running out of Koalas
Once widespread across Australia, the past 20 years has seen koala numbers decline dramatically, for some populations by as much as 80 percent. Ian Darbyshire, CEO of the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife told HuffPost Australia. “In the past five years, we have seen the population go from about 100,000 to 40,000. At this rate, they will be extinct by 2040.”
So what is causing this rapid decline? And what can we do to reverse it?
“There are a lot of different factors, but habitat loss is the main cause,” Darbyshire said. … Furthermore, you get habitat loss breaking down the connectivity between trees, so quite often these days you’ll see koalas crossing the road. When they are down on the ground, that’s when they are vulnerable, not only from traffic but also from dogs.” Darbyshire said a fragmentation of koala population has also led to further problems for the marsupials.
“You can drive around the country and see koalas, they are widespread but local,” he said. “And their population is fragmented now. That leads to inbreeding, disease and stress. We are seeing Chlamydia become a real issue and that’s because the population is getting stressed. And tragically, Chlamydia affects their ability to breed and they can also lose their sight.
It’s tragic because the koala is a national icon, it’s a very important economic contributor for Australia’s tourism …
Other issues koalas are facing include large scale fires and climate change, both of which can result in koalas forcing to relocate, which is actually problematic in itself. “It’s not easy to relocate koalas as they tend to be quite choosy about the trees they’ll eat. They have to have flora that’s developed to the area they are in. You can’t just take from one area to another. You have to make sure you introduce the right bacteria into their gut,” he said.
“Males are very territorial as well, and as food gets scarce a male might roam several kilometers. You can’t then just stick another male in his territory. You really have to understand what you are doing.”
In terms of what you can do to help, Darbyshire said it all starts with education. “I think the public needs a fair bit of education and support to understand they do need help. We need actions from individuals to make sure they have koala-friendly fences, that they have their dogs under control. If you see one on the road, help it across,” he said
We should be doing more to help them..
A koala can’t live anywhere else on earth. They are animals unique to Australia, and they can’t adapt as fast as we are changing the environment around them.
If you’re in an area where koalas can be found, Darbyshire encouraged you to leave water out for them on hot days and also to make it easy for koala to travel from yard to yard. “Lean a pole on your fence or plant a tree so koalas can navigate backyards,” he said. “They are having to travel further for food, which sees them [forced to navigate suburban areas] and puts them in the path of dogs.
“Koalas can be found throughout Queensland, down to New South Wales and Victoria and South Australia. So if you live in these areas, think about planting the right trees, giving them connectivity from tree to tree, controlling the burn, keeping the vegetation for them… it all helps.
“They can only have one young a year and have to be about three years old until they can have one. We are moving much faster than they are.
“Australia has a big issue – Australia is wiping out its mammals faster than any other country on earth. We need lots of help for our native species. Talking about the koala helps because it’s iconic. It’s the cute cuddly Aussie.
“But it won’t be here for much longer if we don’t take action now.”
LIVING with KOALAS echoes the sentiments above and the more we research the more we are convinced of the facts stated in this article. Please remember: the difference between human action & inaction is… extinction for the wild koala.
“Dog owners and their pooches have been put through their paces in a final assessment as part of a pilot program. The program, which is the first of its kind, aims to reduce dog attacks on koalas through specialist training.
Port Macquarie-Hastings Council engaged renowned dog trainer Steve Austin to share his knowledge and teach local dog trainers. Nineteen dog owners and their pooches have participated in the pilot program.” read full article in the Port News
Reducing dog attacks on Koalas – Port Macquarie
Road strikes and dog attacks are the two major killers of koalas, with the Department of Environment and Heritage estimating that every year about 110 koalas are attacked and hospitalised on the east coast due to dog attacks.
This is an extract from an ABC report:
“A stuffed skateboarding koala is teaching dogs to stay away from native wildlife in an initiative that could be rolled out across the country.
The K9 Koala Training Program, which has proven successful in New South Wales, focuses on pet owners, and trains dogs to respond when called when they are near a koala and its habitat.
Run by renowned dog trainer Steve Austin, the 10-week program has been run by Port Macquarie Hastings Council on the mid-north coast, where dog attacks are one of the major killers for koalas in the region. read full article