It has been a great Christmas for local koalas following a $124,000 grant to rescue and advocacy group Port Stephens Koalas.
The grant will go towards the construction of a dedicated koala hospital at Port Stephens, in an effort to curb the rapid decline in the local koala population due to loss of habitat.
“Port Stephens is renowned for its local koala population.
Unfortunately, the local koala population is in rapid decline and we must act to avoid their extinction,” Kate Washington MP said.
“A dedicated koala hospital will help protect our treasured national icon.
It would be a travesty, if we don’t do all that we can to ensure our children’s children can still see koalas in the wild in Port Stephens,” Ms Washington said.
Port Stephens Koala Carer Carmel Northwood said the grant would offer more support to koala care and rehabilitation in the area.
“It is difficult to find full-time carers.
The funding will allow us to roster volunteers into less intensive roles in areas including caring, maintenance and cleaning,” Ms Northwood said.
Stage One of the project will include rehabilitation pens, carer accommodation and storage for Port Stephens Koalas operational equipment.
Additional funding will be required to see Stage Two of the hospital proceed, which will include emergency veterinary and educational facilities.
Ms Northwood said it was vital that residents and tourists knew the correct wildlife injury contact number.
“For all native animals, including koalas, call Hunter Wildlife Rescue on 0418 628 483,” Ms Northwood told Bay News Of The Area.
“It doesn’t matter what time of the day or night you call.
If a koala has been hit by a car, immediate treatment is required.
Koalas can also quickly become dehydrated and puncture wounds require antibiotics,” Ms Northwood said.
It is estimated that there may be as few as 150 koalas in the wild in Port Stephens now.
Koala numbers in NSW represent just 10 percent of the nation’s koalas.
Koala protection is something that both sides of the political spectrum agree on.
Ms Northwood praised the work of both Kate Washington and Port Stephens Mayor Bruce MacKenzie.
The grant was funded through the Community Building Partnerships Grant.
For more information, visit Port Stephens Koalas on Facebook or go to portstephenskoalas.com.au
By Jo FINN