Australia: Life is tough for koalasBy Graham Land Oct 30, 2013 6:00AM UTC
In April I posted about the plight of Australia’s most lovable marsupial, the Koala. The national icon faces hazards due to habitat loss, attacks from feral and domestic dogs, road traffic and even angry cattle. And then there are the droughts and wildfires. For something so supposedly beloved, the koala is getting a seriously raw deal at the hands of Australia’s human population – particularly industrial interests.
Recently, Australian Bluegum Plantations, a company with environmental credentials (now revoked), apologized for killing and maiming koalas in Victoria state.
From The Age:
Wildlife carers raised the alarm in July after finding koalas had been killed, maimed, stranded, left suffering from pneumonia and starving in plantations in the green triangle region of Victoria and South Australia, between Mount Gambier and Portland. While there has been no population audit, it is understood there are thousands of koalas in the area.
Bluegum, a logging firm which exports woodchip, is guilty of what the timber industry in general has routinely visited upon koalas in Victoria and South Australia. Bluegum is just the largest firm involved.
See this (rather sad) report from ABC News for more. It’s a far cry from this amusing story about a koala that wandered into a hotel pub in Hamilton. I guess cute videos stand more of a chance of going viral than stories of cuddly koalas with broken backs and severed arms. Luckily the pub crawling marsupial was rescued and returned to the wild unharmed. Another story saw a koala being rescued from a rabbit trap in Melbourne.
It seems efforts to protect koalas are simply not up to snuff. Development and profit-driven activity do not really have the best interest of the animals in mind. It also sound counter intuitive to suggest that there is an unexpected “overpopulation of koalas”, as did Lisa Marty, the chief executive of the Victorian Association of Forest Industries, when those very industries are rapidly destroying the animal’s natural habitat. So is it really overpopulation or simply a massive squeeze of a normal (or subnormal even) population into an ever-shrinking space?
Victoria’s forestry industry guidelines do not jive with what conservationists claim is necessary for the koala’s continued survival and wellbeing.
From the Guardian:
It just sounds like complete self-regulation to me, which is just more of the same. We predicted that these deaths would happen but the industry is terrified of implementing our major recommendations because it will involve changing their practices. They make it sound like they’ve solved the problem but it’s far more complex than that. There is no science at all to this. I just don’t trust them.
–Deborah Tabar of the Australian Koala Foundation
It’s easy to apologize like Bluegum once you’ve been found out, but there is no reason to ever trust a self-regulating industry. Just ask the inhabitants of the Gulf of Mexico if they trust BP now.