Bob Baldwin, Member for Paterson, said the construction of the ‘Koala Country’ enclosure at Oakvale Farm and Fauna World at Salt Ash was important because it ensured the survival of koalas and continued to play a large part in the region’s ability to draw tourists.
“The completion of ‘Koala Country’ ensures the Farm continues to be an exciting tourist attraction for many years to come, and is also another example of the Government’s commitment to investing in the tourism sector and into small and medium business,” Mr Baldwin said.
“The farm has already seen the birth of 24 koala joeys over the past 10 years, to enhance genetic diversity with the captive population. I congratulate Leanne and Kent Sansom on the amazing work they’ve done to date.”
The breeding program aims to address declining numbers of koalas that are estimated to have slumped to under 80,000 nationally.
A 2012 report to the Federal government’s threatened species committee found in the 20-year period between 1990 and 2010 the number of koalas in New South Wales had dropped by a third, and in Queensland the numbers were down by as much as 43 per cent,
It concluded that across Victoria koala numbers had dropped between 5 and 15 per cent and in South Australia by 39 per cent.
Owners of Oakvale Farm and Fauna World, Leanne and Kent Sansom, said they were excited that the Government saw value in the farm’s operations to save a great Australian icon and were willing to match their own funds to create a project worth $220,000.
“The facility delivers an interactive, under cover area for small and large groups to experience koalas first hand, learn about their natural environment and discover their uncertain future in the wild,” Mr Sansom said.
“We are really proud of our Koala Country enclosure. It provides a great environment for our koalas as well as highlights their vulnerability to our local, interstate and international visitors.”
The Government provided $110,000 towards the construction project.