Innovative Aussies spark hope for a dying species

PHOTO: Unsplash/ Jordan Whitt

In line with Koala month this September, conservators are ramping up their campaigns to protect our national treasure. 

In 2012, the Federal Environmental Minister listed Koala populations in Queensland, New South Whales and Canberra as ‘vulnerable’. 

Since then, the 2019-2020 bushfires have put the species on a road to extinction, calling into question the Federal Government’s label, and whether it needs to be re-considered.  

A report, commissioned by the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) found 60,000 koalas badly affected by the bushfire crisis. 

In response to these damning statistics, nature conservatories have implemented long-term campaigns to assure the security and preservation of the Koala. 

WWF have aimed to double the number of Koalas across eastern Australia by 2050, as part of their ‘Regeneration Australia’ campaign, which launched July 2021. 

As part of the program, WWF are engaging in innovative ways to re-boot their habitats.

One method is using drones to disperse seeds across burnt landscapes for flora rejuvenation and restoration. 

WWF Australia’s CEO, Dermot O’Gorman believes the replanting project will “create corridors” for the marsupials to re-enter their environment safely. 

“Sixty thousand Koalas is a deeply disturbing number for a species already in trouble,” Mr O’Gorman said. 

On June 18, 2021, the Threatened Species Committee in consultation with the Federal Government made a tentative assessment on the standing of Koalas.

Within the report, they  were considered eligible species for the endangered list, however the title is yet to be made official. 

“Given that the Koala is demonstrably closer to lower threshold of Endangered and that ongoing trends suggest further events likely to be sufficient to worsen the decline… the committee considers that the Koala is eligible for the list” states the report.

In a bid to hasten conservation before it is too late, AKF established a Koala Protection Act to address the decline in species population head-on. 

Instead of focusing on the animals, the Protection Act aims to conserve their primary habitat, trees. 

Australian Koala Foundation campaign for Koala Protection Act: VIDEO/ Australian Koala Foundation YouTube.

Although the Act has not passed in Parliament, AFK believe protecting trees is one step to assuring a longer lifespan for the species and have designed the legislature to go with this approach. 

“If you are a Koala and you lose your home, you have nothing to eat, and you are lost, leaving you more susceptible to threats such as cats and dogs,” states the website. 

Whilst the 2019-2020 bushfires caused conservatory organisations to start at square one, in terms of re-designing their Koala Conservation models, efforts are ongoing and spark hope for a dying species. 

The responsibility now hangs on the Federal Government, to categorise the species as ‘extinct’ and adopt measures like the Koala Protection Act, to support existing populations going forward.  

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Tia Haralabakos

Tia Haralabakos is a Media & Communications student at Monash University specialising in Journalism and human rights. She is interested in the multi-faceted landscape of digital media, particularly addressing challenges to online reporting like diversity and content moderation. Tia’s journalistic interests include human rights and social affairs.

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