Koala Alliance Victoria, an alliance of koala protection groups, will launch on Wednesday 3 May, Wild Koala Day, to advocate for Victoria’s at-risk koalas.
The alliance has formed because Victoria is fast becoming a hell zone for one of the country’s most-loved marsupials.
Founding member of the alliance, Janine Duffy said that in Victoria, koalas are either being deliberately killed by the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA) in one area or they are being ignored as they slip into local extinction in another area.
“A koala living in the southwest is likely to have all her habitat cut down around her, or she might have her tree cut down while she’s still in it, and have her body bulldozed,” Ms Duffy said.
“A koala living in the You Yangs is likely to die from drought or a heatwave or of starvation as her trees die due to climate change,” she said.
“A koala living in Mallacoota, lucky to have survived the 2019-2020 megafires, is likely to face another one in her lifetime.
“Despite being found to be the most genetically diverse and robust of Australia’s koalas, and potentially the key to securing a future for other compromised gene pools, the south Gippsland koala in the Strzeleckis receives no special protection and is still likely to have their forest cut down by VicForests, and the taxpayer is footing the bill ($54million 2021-2022) for this to happen,” Ms Duffy said.
Melinda Darer of Friend of Alberton West said that we only have 1500-2000 koalas left and they face losing their homes so it can be pulped and sent overseas!
“It’s simply madness,” Ms Darer said.
Ms Belinda Eden of Mornington Peninsula Koala Conservation said that on the Mornington Peninsula, a koala is likely to die from starvation as her trees are cut down due to lax planning laws.
“As a direct result, she then experiences stress-induced illness, often resulting in unnecessary suffering and death.”
Despite all these threats, the Victorian government and DEECA still claim that koalas in Victoria are ‘thriving and abundant’ based on a new modelling technique.
Not based on actual counts, the estimate is based on a computer model.
Ms Jessica Robertson, of Ballarat Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation, questions where this data is coming from.
“We’d like to know how the government knows that koalas are ‘abundant’ – where is this data coming from?”
“I know that in my area there has not been any research or monitoring of koala abundance for many decades.
“It puzzles me why more do not question this claim of abundance when everyone I speak to says the same thing: where have all the koalas gone?
“The government is blinded by this fantasy of koala overabundance. As a result, calls from koala carers and rescuers, researchers and citizen science groups to investigate shocking koala declines go unseen and unheard,” Ms Duffy continued.
“We couldn’t stand it any longer: there has to be a group to investigate and rebut Victorian government misinformation about koalas.
“For example, there’s the Victorian Koala Management Strategy – 19 years late, and we’re still waiting.
“The draft Victorian Koala Management Strategy is indefensible – it’s weak, bitter, defensive, stingy about costs, and obsessed with koala overpopulation, but still manages to fail to offer any solutions,” Ms Duffy added.
“If we don’t act, koalas in Victoria will disappear without even getting onto the endangered list.”
Koala Alliance Victoria was formed by Janine Duffy, Jessica Robertson, and Melinda Darer.
The alliance’s first investigation into the Victorian Koala Management Strategy can be found here: https://www.koalaclancyfoundation.org.au/analysis-of-the-victorian-koala-management-strategy/
Ryan Fritz started The Advocate in 2014 to provide not-for-profits and charities another media platform to tell their worthwhile hard news stories and opinion pieces effortlessly. In 2020, Ryan formed a team of volunteer journalists to help spread even more high-quality stories from the third sector. He also has over 10 years experience as a media and communications professional for not-for-profits and charities and currently works at Redkite, a childhood cancer charity.