The Write Direction: Koala Chaos

THE one symbol that says Australia to the rest of the world is the kangaroo.

This probably stems back to the wool boom days when the price of a pound of wool reached one pound sterling.

Rural Australia was the backbone of the nation and the kangaroo was the most prominent symbol.

Whilst the kangaroo continues to thrive, our other unique native animals such as the koala and the platypus are in serious decline.

It is therefore with the greatest of pleasure that I read recently that the Lord Mayor of Brisbane has announced an initiative to reintroduce koalas into suitable bushland areas around Brisbane as soon as his Council can identify suitable habitats and come up with a plan to protect and manage the iconic species.

Mayor Adrian Schrinner needs to be congratulated for this goal, even though the cynics will point out that the next Local Government election is due this month.

Part of my contribution to the community was as a member, then committee member, then Chairman of a residents association within our local government area for over fifteen years.

One of my inspired initiatives was a similar push to replenish the once thriving local koala population in my area.

The advice was that the demise of our local koala population was most likely due to the intrusion of population and home building in the area.

The local dog population most likely also resulted in koalas being killed when they descended from their trees, often at night time, in order to drink water or swap trees, even though they achieved most of their water intake from eating gum leaves.

So where do we get koala breeding stock from in order to reintroduce them into the wild in our area?

There was considerable publicity at the time detailing the overpopulation of disease-free koalas on Kangaroo Island in South Australia, a location with an almost identical coastal climate to the Myall Coast.

Trees were being denuded by the density of koalas to the point where large areas of suitable eucalyptus on Kangaroo Island were dying out.

This in turn reached the stage where culling of koalas was being considered by authorities in order to save the forests.

I immediately set about contacting the authorities with the proposition that an area in North Arm Cove could be available for resettlement as it was originally home to a positive koala population.

Yes, some fencing would be needed, plus the availability of fresh water, which could be supplied by the provision of small dams, similar to what is found on many farming properties.

The response was typical of government and local government, and could be summarised as “too hard”.

I wish Brisbane City Council good luck with their bold initiative.


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