Tag Archives: koalas

Australia’s New Native Animals – Cane Toads, Cows and Sheep

I have just read a sad story about how five endangered Sumatran elephants have been killed by villagers because they most likely damaged their crops.

http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/five-dead-elephants-believed-poisoned/story-e6frfku0-1225962327660

It’s the same old story. The elephants’ habitat has now been chopped down so there’s nothing for them to eat. So they eat the villagers’ crops. The villagers get angry. They retaliate. They kill the culprits. Five endangered elephants are now dead.

Wild and native animals are now the enemies of mankind. We don’t want them. There’s no place for them in our lives except as zoo exhibits, or as in the case of the kangaroo – on our dinner plate. 

My friend Julia was driving up on the highway near Byron Bay on Friday night and she noticed a baby koala trying to cross the highway.  She jumped out and helped it cross (nearly getting herself run over by semi trailers in the process).  When it got to the other side it was so stressed out it immediately tried to go back the way it had come. She had no option but to grab it and take it to the police station where it was to be handed over to WIRES (Wildlife Information and Rescue Service) officers.

The reason for this catastrophe is that all over Australia we build double lane major highways through koala habitats. I have seen squashed koalas in Victoria where the Hume Highway goes right through koala homeland.  It’s really quite disgraceful.

Have a read of what I have already written about the way we treat our iconic koala https://roslynmotter.com/2010/03/11/pity-about-the-australian-koala/

As for kangaroos, they are now just considered pests and lean meat. We are being encouraged to overcome the childhood obesity epidemic by eating kangaroos. No mention of giving up junk food or exercising – just eat kangaroo meat! When I was a child, no one ate kangaroo meat but we were all thin and active.

A recent discussion on this very subject at the University of Technology, advertised it as follows –

 

UTSpeaks: Killing Skippy
Will kangaroos survive being seen as lean, tender meat and damaging pests?
 
   

November 30th 2010

How did kangaroos stop being wonders of the Australian bush, becoming only good for food or sport?

Why do conflicting opinions abound about how many kangaroos Australia should maintain and how many we can sustain, if these animals are intensively harvested in the wild for meat? Despite industry reassurances, do kangaroos and their pouch young suffer cruelly at the hands of hunters?

Based on cutting-edge UTS research, this public lecture addresses the contentious issues of harvesting and eating kangaroos as a means to protect the environment and examines the laws and regulations that govern the well-being of one of our most treasured national icons.

I have previously written about this subject and the abhorrent way that joeys are ‘finished off’ after their mothers have been slaughtered. See https://roslynmotter.com/2010/03/27/baby-seals-and-joeys-a-head-splitting-issue/

I didn’t go to the talk so I don’t know what was said, however I think that the crux of the problem is that more than anything, we want their land.  Koalas are proving to be a jolly nuisance as they tend to live in highly desirable areas – Port Macquarie, Nelson Bay, the southern part of Queensland for example, where a lot of development is occuring.

All animals need a certain amount of space for their habitat before they become stressed.  It’s no use leaving a few trees with koalas on either side of a double lane highway and hoping that everything will work out. It won’t work out for the koalas anyway.

But then it’s not just koalas and kangaroos who are animals non gratis. It’s fruit bats, ibises, sharks, wombats, crocodiles, cockatoos, possums – the list goes on. 

I remember when the beautiful Christmas Beetle was a Christmas trademark. They’d be all over the place in summer. I haven’t seen one for years.  I read last week how Stephen Fellenberg has said that their disappearance is due to their habitat being destroyed. They have an incubation period of two years under the ground before they emerge, fully formed.  These incubation areas are being dug up to make way for housing developments. Same old story.

We’ve made life as miserable as we can for Australian wildlife. We’ve brought in Indian Mynah birds and cane toads which have decimated our birds and native animals. Whatever is left over is under serious stress.

Curiously, since I wrote this blog I’ve noticed a few people googling ‘are cows and sheep native Australian animals?’ Well the answer to this is a big NO. They, together with foxes, rabbits, dogs, cats and pigs were brought out to Australia from England after colonisation. Foxes were for ‘sport’ and I’m sure rabbits were for food, as were the pigs, cows and sheep. Cats and dogs were for pets. We’ve since helped by bringing in Myrna birds and cane toads.

I’ve spoken about biodiversity before. The links in the chain are fast coming apart and it won’t be long before we find out what the repercussions will be.

It looks like we can soon forget Australia’s native iconic animals. 

A report was recently released titled ‘Into Oblivion: The disappearing native mammals of northern Australia’. It estimates that the number of sites classified as empty of mammal activity rose from 13% in 1996 to 55% in 2009 and predicts that in 20 years native mammals will be extinct. Presumably that does not include the human mammal. However, how can we be sure? We are just one link in that biological chain and if we are the only link left, what will that mean for our survival?

We can expect that in a few years all that will remain in Australia will be people, cane toads, Indian mynahs, cows and sheep and strangely, the government doesn’t seem to care or maybe now it’s just all too hard.

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Look in the Mirror!

 

Recently, my Jordanian friend Basel, wrote to me thus –

When I was a child I was one time somewhere in a zoo, and there was a huge sign written Here you see the most dangerous animal on earth.  All visitors watched in a mirror and saw themselves. And you see it worked, I still remember this! Animals are not calculating like humans, so they have a better character.  (Basel’s words).

Today I took my dog to the vet’s and I was chatting to everyone who was waiting with their pet.  A young man came into the clinic with his one year old Laborador/Staffie cross. The dog was a friendly dog despite the fact one of its back legs was in a plaster cast. The man told me that his home was burgled recently and when the dog barked at the intruders, they set upon it with a hammer, smashing its back leg and its teeth.  The police weren’t particularly interested in the case and didn’t take any DNA samples.  I suspect that this event is all too common or why would burglers be carrying hammers?

It certainly takes a ‘special’ sort of person who could set upon a living creature with a hammer.

Max with plaster cast (not the dog at the vet's)

Well, the newspapers are full of such stories, and if you follow my blogs you’ll read quite a few similar stories.  Just read my last blog on private and public zoos to see how disinterested some people are in animal rights.

Elle MacPherson’s recent admission that she relies on rhino horn makes you wonder what she sees in her mirror.  Rhinos are critically endangered because of people like Elle, who basically put a contract on a rhino’s life by demanding its horn. Apparently Elle thinks that her beauty, as skin deep as it so obviously is, is so important to the world that it is worth the  lives of any number of endangered animals. Elle is the genius who is quoted as saying that she wouldn’t have any books in her home unless she’d written them.  Well, hello Elle, did you know that the trade in rhino horn is illegal?

However, as with yin and yang ie good/bad; light/dark; night/day – there are also many people who are concerned about the lives and welfare of animals.

IN a real-life fairytale, an American millionaire has bequeathed $8 million to the Mannum-based Wombat Awareness Organisation.

The millionaire, whose family has requested anonymity, unexpectedly visited the team of volunteers about two years ago to see the southern hairy-nosed wombats in the wild.

“I took him out into the wild population and showed him wombats with mange, wombats that were starving to death and wombats with burrows from motorbike tyres,” the director said.

The millionaire, who worked in the horse-racing industry, was captivated by the volunteers’ tireless efforts to save what may be becoming an endangered icon.

The Director, Brigitte Stevens,  who currently works to help pay bills, including last year’s $70,000 vet fees – wants to buy two properties in the Murraylands and run a 24-hour free vet advice phone clinic.

Read more: http://www.news.com.au/business/us-millionaire-leaves-estate-to-wombat-awareness-organisation/story-e6frfm1i-1225927067804#ixzz10xO6totL

Pity the poor wombat.  They are the farmer’s enemy because they dig burrows on their farms.  In NSW farmers can apply for permits to shoot wombats that burrow under fences. In parts of Victoria, wombats are treated as vermin and no permit is required to shoot them. Is there any native animal that pleases a farmer – I ask you? I doubt it. Kangaroos, wombats, sulphur crested cockatoos, flying foxes, dingoes and the rest are all animal non grata for farmers. They poison them, shoot them and trap them. 

A biologist, Erin Roger, is also working to draw attention to the plight of wombats – this time in protected reserves.

According to the Sun-Herald, 18th July, 2010 , at least 3,000 wombats are killed each year on 800 kilometres of NSW highway that fall within the wombat’s reserved optimal habitat.

Each year, over 13.6% of the common wombat population living in the optimal habitat of NSW’s protected reserves, are run over by cars and trucks.

You’d think that the wombats would be safe in specially designated wombat reserves, wouldn’t you?  Well, just as they do with koala colonies,  the government cheerfully builds highways right through wombat habitats. 

I have already discussed this matter in my post roslynmotter.com/2010/03/11/pity-about-the-australiankoala

It is heartbreaking to see so many native animals – wombats, possums, parrots, kangaroos and koalas – squashed on the roads every morning. There is no device in place to stop kangaroos jumping over the highway on the outskirts of Canberra for starters. It also breaks my heart to see the dozens of dead sulphur crested cockatoos on the M7 Motorway every morning. This is because the motorway was built right through their habitat.

Working to save the microbat, is Dr Brad Law from the science and research division of industry and investment of NSW. NSW is home to an unknown number of microbat species. Microbats play an important part in the ecosystem due to the large numbers of insects they consume – up to 1.5 times their own body weight in one night. Their numbers are falling as urban development encroaches on their habitat.  (Sun-Herald 27th June, 2010)

Female Phasmid (photo by SJ Fellenberg)

An entomologist who is doing marvellous work saving the Lord Howe Island phasmid (stick insect), is Dr. Stephen Fellenberg.  However, due to the escape of rats from a sinking ship, many species native to the island have been wiped out.

One of those species, a rare stick insect (Phasmid), was originally thought to be extinct. When a few survivors were found on the island, Dr Fellenberg agreed to breed them so that the island population could be restocked.

His wife, Lynn Bowden, is also doing marvellous work helping Australian native animals – this time the koala. She has been working with a group of scientists, volunteers and the local community in the south west Sydney region to study a small population of koalas.

She told me that there is an organisation called Koala Retreat which is  dedicated to establishing a tree planting program to supply good quality of leaves to koalas in zoos and wildlife parks and to extending the natural corridors for koalas in the wild.

So what can you do? I support organisations such as Wires, which protects Australian wildlife.

You could also start your own animal sanctuary http://www.startananimalsanctuary.com/54/working-with-animals-do-what-you-love/

The government has some ideas http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/kids.html However I find any suggestions that they make as laughable considering they give farmers carte blanche to shoot anything that bugs them/ and also are actively building highways through their habitats.  Developers give donations to major political parties which don’t go unrewarded and some politicians have close personal links with developers who steal habitat from native animals.

However, look in the mirror and see what you can do to help Australian wildlife.

To see some great animal shots (some tragic) go to https://mail.google.com/mail/?shva=1#inbox/12b5bca5be92f014

 

 

 

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I think that I shall never see a Billboard lovely as a Tree

If mankind disappeared today

What would all the animals say?

Birds, koalas and even bees,

Would sing with joy – they’d now have trees!

I find it interesting that so many people hate trees.

They cause more neighbourhood disputes than any other issue. Trees are poisoned because they block views or for any number of innane reasons. It also seems (at least in Australia)  that everyone craves a McMansion which necessitates the removal of every single bit of plant life so that an extraordinarily large house can encompass every square metre of the available land. And then everyone whinges when they notice that birds have left the suburbs. https://roslynmotter.com/2010/05/30/not-in-my-backyard/

Though on the other hand, a recent article in the local paper told how twelve Ibis chicks were left orphaned after the Calvary Retirement Village in Ryde, New South Wales, got a permit from the National Parks and Wildlife Service to remove Ibis nests from palm trees on its site. Many trees were cut down deliberately because they were home to ibis, which some people consider to be pests. The point was made that the Ibis is not a pest but a native bird which has been forced to find trees in residential areas because their natural environment has been wiped out.

Meanwhile, in the Melbourne Botanical Gardens the staff were devastated after someone vandalised the historic Separation Tree. The 24-metre, 400 year old river red gum was the site of celebrations on November 15th, 1850, when Victoria broke away from New South Wales. On 19th August it was ringbarked when someone broke into the gardens and attacked it with an axe. With a huge gash surrounding the tree’s trunk there is a good chance that the 400 year old tree will die.

So, do trees have a raison d’etre? Do we really need them?

Well there are lots of reasons why we might. Most notably that the leaves of the trees absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, thus keeping the temperature on earth down to the levels that make our life on earth comfortable.  They then convert the CO2 to oxygen for us to breathe. The Amazon Rainforest for example, produces more than 20% of the world’s oxygen supply.

If you’ve read my last blog you’ll see that research shows that the leaves of trees have, over the last ten years, become smaller so that their surface space does not absorb the same amount of CO2 from the atmosphere that they used to. This is a matter of great concern because if CO2 builds up in the atmosphere, the temperature on earth will increase, and this will lead to drier conditions, fires and generally intolerable conditions for humans, animals and plantlife as we know it.

The other reasons that trees are of benefit are as homes for animals and birds.  Animals and various bird varieties live in hollows in the trees and birds also make their homes in nests which they construct on the branches. Many animals including monkeys, fruit bats, possums, koalas and more, depend on trees for their homes.

Bees and wasps construct their hives on the trunks of trees.  

The Green Tree Ant which lives in tropical regions of India, Africa and Australia, construct their homes from leaves, building huge leaf homes in the branches of trees. They build nests by weaving leaves together with a sticky substance produced from their larvae. Many ants work together to constuct these oval shaped nests which can finish up being 300-500mm long.

Trees are also a safe haven for animals escaping from other predators. Out in the wild, a leopard will drag its catch up a tree so that it can eat in peace, free from lions and hyennas which would steal it off them.  Any animal that can climb a tree is in a great position to escape predatory animals that can’t. I’ve seen documentaries which showed baby bears running up into trees to escape angry male bears that would kill them if they could catch them.

And of course there are animals that can’t walk comfortably on land and which  prefer to live in trees. These are sloths, monkeys, possums, orangutans, squirrels, koalas and sugar gliders for example.

Also, trees provide foods  for animals and man.

Koalas eat only certain kinds of eucalyptus leaves. Sloths tend to stay with the same trees, eating their leaves, for their entire lives. Silkworms only eat mulberry leaves.  Trees provide fruits and flowers which are the sole food source of certain birds and animals and in a symbiotic arrangement, the birds, animals and even ants help the trees spread their seeds throughout the landscape.  They also help the flowers in the trees to pollinate by taking pollen from flower to flower.

Not only do trees provide fruit for eating, they also provide herbal remedies for both man and animals. The bark of the trees, the leaves, flowers and roots all have potential healing benefits. There is still much we don’t know about the healing powers of many trees and plants but many pharmaceuticals contain elements from plantlife. Animals also know intuitively to chew on the bark or leaves of trees if they are sick.

Teas, tinctures, poultices and extracts made from countless plants are used to soothe sore throats, boost immunity, ease congestion and relieve pain. Read more: Medicinal Uses for Trees & Plants | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/list_5831216_medicinal-uses-trees-_amp_-plants.html#ixzz0yFasZzMd

Quinine comes from the bark of a South American tree and is used in treatments for malaria.

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center website, eucalyptus is a traditional diabetes treatment.

The leaves of olive trees are traditionally used to lower blood pressure, ward off colds and treat cardiovascular problems. Now research suggests that olive leaf extract products have a dramatic effect on excess weight and have the potential to combat obesity.

Ancient Olive Tree on the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem

Willow tree bark contains salicin, a chemical used in the manufacture of aspirin.

Every part of the coconut palm is used by the Fijians. The leaves are interwoven for roof thatching and the coconut is an important ingredient in their cooking. 

Trees have been worshipped by many native and ancient people.

As a punishment to the ‘pagans’, in 772 King Charlemagne had Irminsul, the sacred tree of the Anglo Saxons, chopped down. From that time on country people have been leaving farms and moving to the city. This was the start of modern man’s disconnection with his farming roots.

Today we no longer worship trees. We worship money. We think nothing of chopping down any tree that stands in the way of development and progress. The theme of the movie Avatar where a sacred tree is blown up for the valuable mineral underneath is without doubt the way of the world these days.

Steve Irwin had a wonderful idea. He used to buy up as much land throughout the world as possible in order to protect the animals and trees on it and he encouraged others to do the same.

Well, unfortunately the late Steve Irwin is no longer with us and he was a rarity. Most people are keen to sell their treed properties to developers because that is where the big bucks lie.

Unfortunately that short sighted or ‘show me the money’ approach is what is going to cause ruination for us all. Many species are under threat because trees which are either their habitats /or the habitats of their prey/ or the source of their food, are being chopped down to either make more farm land available /or for housing developments/ or just for woodchipping as in the case of the Swift Parrot’s habitat.

The following are just some of the species under threat due to destruction of the habitats containing trees specific to their survival –

Orangutans – living in the jungles of South East Asia. Their jungles are being burnt down, particularly in Indonesia to make way for palm oil plantations.

The Powerful Owl (Ninox Strenua) – the largest owl in Australia. It is recognised by its large, bright yellow, forward directing eyes. Powerful Owls feed on a range of possums and gliders. The presence of hollowed trees within the landscape is critical for their survival, not only as a home for their prey’s habitat, but also because Powerful Owls only nest in large hollows.

The Swift Parrot (Lathamus discolour) – is a specialised pollen and nectar feeding parrot that migrates across Bass Strait from summer breeding sites in Tasmania to winter feeding sites in mainland Australia. The most significant threat to this species is the loss of breeding habitat in Tasmania, primarily the harvesting of Tasmanian Blue Gum due to forestry practices including woodchipping. In 1989 it was estimated that only one third of the original Eucalyptus globulus forest remained.  The main threat in Victoria is a reduction in the extent of Box Ironbark woodlands which provide a source of winter flowering, nectar and pollen. See http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:tZ4_xzXKbNkJ:bird.net.au/bird/index.php%3Ftitle%3DSwift_Parrot+parrot+under+threat+near+Horsham,+Victoria&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=au

Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus banksii) – A recent preliminary study in South-western Victoria indicated that the Red-tailed Black Cockatoo population should be considered endangered because of the loss of Brown Stringybark forests and suitable nesting hollows in South-east Australia. Past clearing of Brown Stringybark forests has reduced this essential habitat and has caused the remaining areas to be broken up and fragmented. Frequent burning, particularly by fires which damage the canopies, may have also had an adverse effect on the food resources of these Cockatoos.

Glossy Black-Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus lathami )  – The Glossy Black-cockatoo is a dusky brown to black cockatoo with a massive, bulbous bill and a broad, red band through the tail. The red in the tail is barred black and edged with yellow.  The species is uncommon although widespread throughout suitable forest and woodland habitats, from the central Queensland coast to East Gippsland in Victoria, and inland to the southern tablelands and central western plains of NSW, with a small population in the Riverina. An isolated population exists on Kangaroo Island, South Australia.  It feeds almost exclusively on the seeds of several species of she-oak (Casuarina and Allocasuarina species), shredding the cones with the massive bill. It is dependent on large hollow-bearing eucalypts for nest sites. It faces serious threat due to the reduction of suitable habitat through clearing for development/ Loss of tree hollows /Excessively frequent fire which reduces the abundance and recovery of she-oaks and also may destroy nest trees.

Koalas – Koalas are a uniquely Australian tree dwelling animal that is under serious threat in Australia. They succumb easily to stress and they are certainly suffering from some very stressful situations. They can only eat certain varieties of eucalyptus leaves and these days the major koala breeding areas seem to be slap bang in the middle of major areas of development – for example, Port Macquarie and Nelson Bay. As housing developments claim their trees, they are attacked by dogs and cats, and highways bissect their breeding areas so that many die trying to cross roads. Bushfires also claim many koalas’ lives. See https://roslynmotter.com/2010/03/11/pity-about-the-australian-koala/ and http://wn.com/australia’s_shame__logging_deforestation_threatens_koala_habitat_near_nation’s_capital_china_cares

Soon, the only Australian birds left will be behind wire

The above are just a few of many, many birds and animals that depend on trees for survival. All are facing hard times in these days of urban encroachment on their native habitats. The Chinese panda is almost extinct because their bamboo plantations have been cut down for development, and so the list goes on.

You might ask why we should care if a few thousand species are wiped out. After all, what does it matter if a red or orange parrot bites the dust?

Well the reason is BIODIVERSITY.  Biodiversity is the variety of all life forms on earth – the different plants, animals and micro-organisms and the ecosystems of which they are a part.

As it happens, 2010 is the United Nations International Year of Biodiversity. 

Each bird, insect and animal is a link in an evolutionary chain. As each species is wiped out,  links are broken all over the place, and we are left with major chinks in the biological chain. We can only ask what the end result will be.

Today, a report was released titled ‘Into Oblivion: The disappearing native mammals of northern Australia’. It estimates that the number of sites classified as empty of mammal activity rose from 13% in 1996 to 55% in 2009 and predicts that in 20 years native mammals will be extinct. Presumably that does not include the human mammal. However, how can we be sure? We are just one link in that biological chain and if we are the only link left, what will that mean for our survival?

And how can we justify the deaths of so many species just so that we can steal their habitats?  What dreadful custodians we are of the earth.

The first woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize – Wangari Maathai – was in Sydney in July this year. She formed the Green Belt movement out of concerns that rural women in Kenya’s lives have been devastated by deforestation.  Their drinking water and food has been affected and they have no fire wood for their cooking  and heating because of this deforestation. Since she commenced her organisation in 1977 they have instigated the planting of 40 million trees across Africa.

Israel has a very proactive reforestation project, having planted 230 million trees across their territory which is mostly desert.

Małgorzata Górska’s leadership in the fight to stop a controversial highway project led to a significant legal precedent for the environment that resulted in the protection of Poland’s Rospuda Valley, one of Europe’s last true wilderness areas.

In Russia, an unlikely housewife activist,  Yevgenia Chirikova, has been involved in a  three-year quest to save the Khimki forest from destruction. Chirikova became aware of a plan to fell a huge swath of forest so that a new highway could be built through it. The 150 hectare Khimki Forest forms part of Moscow’s dwindling green belt and was intended to be a preserve for local wildlife and to act as buffer against the pollution radiating from Moscow. She and other activists have been arrested many times during the course of her
campaign. Let’s hope she succeeds but then, it is not easy saving trees from man’s desires.

By the way, Australia is the most megadiverse developed country and supports almost 10 per cent of the biological diversity on earth. So when are we going to take the problem seriously?

Celebrate trees on http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Trees

Title courtesy of Ogden Nash.

(The Doofuzz Dudes series features some very fantasical trees such as the Moon Tree, the Blood Tree, The Tree of Life and Biter Trees)

Amazon at Lowest Level

THE Amazon, the world’s biggest river, is at its lowest level in more than 40 years near its source in northeastern Peru, causing havoc in a region where it is used as the only form of travel, authorities said.

Read more: http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/amazon-at-lowest-level-in-40-years/story-e6frfku0-1225913307084#ixzz0yL77FlSy

Normally, the Amazon River pushes so much water into the Atlantic Ocean that, more than one hundred miles at sea off the mouth of the river, one can dip fresh water out of the ocean.  The volume of water in the Amazon river is greater than the next eight largest rivers in the world combined and three times the flow of all rivers in the United States .

The Amazon drains more territory than any other, from Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Paraguay and Venezuela before running across Brazil and into the Atlantic.

The current problem is due to lack of rainfall and high temperatures in the region.

At present it is causing havoc on shipping in the region but no doubt it will have an impact on the Amazon Jungle.

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Pity About the Australian Koala!

Yep, it sure is a pity about the Koala.

It’s cute and cuddly but unfortunately it likes to live in trees in prime development spots. Let’s face it, when it comes to a shoot out between koalas and developers, you know who’s going to win – don’t you?

sitting in a tree looking at the ocean!

Koala loafing in a tree looking at the ocean at Nelson Bay

Now there’s a smart way to pick a desirable location to develop – watch where the koalas are holed up! The canny marsupials seem to be expert in picking out the best locations to chew on those tasty eucalyptus leaves.

They are, it seems, rather partial to water views. And we all know what happens when a tree stands in the way of a good water view!

Port Stephens Council and the Lands Department have declared war on the pesky koala. It appears that they (the koala) like living in some parkland behind the beach at Nelson Bay on which the council would like to extend the Halifax Caravan Park.  Well how dare those koalas!!!  The council and Lands Department are a reasonable lot but the koalas have just GOT to understand that that land is worth a whole heap of money!!! They’ll just have to pack their gum leaves and go find a gum tree where land values are lower.

Actually, the council is no doubt greatly cheered by the news that the koala population of Port Stephens, once the “koala capital of NSW” has decreased by 70% in the past decade. Better news again, every day they are being killed on the road as they seek refuge in people’s backyards. Better still, many are killed by dogs. According to http://www.thekoala.com/koala/ 4,000 koalas are killed each year by dogs and cars.

Koalas are arboreal mammals. Their diet is mainly eucalyptus leaves which are very low in nutrients and high in toxins. Because this does not provide them with much energy they need to sleep a lot. Yep, sleeping in those trees that the council wants to chop down! 

Much of original native bush has been cleared in Australia and this has contributed to the extinction of many species. Since the eucalyptus tree is so important in the koala’s diet, it plays a very big part in their survival.  If eucalyptus trees in koala habitats are chopped down then we can say goodbye to the koala.

Where do I go now?

Even when a developer  illegally clears koala habitat the Port Stephens Council cheers! This is what happened last year and the council promptly took the opportunity to rezone the area for industrial development. What a bit of luck! Despite the fact that the Department of Environment and Climate Change advised against the rezoning, the council high handedly proceeded to do so anyway.

And  the council has now got their big eyes fixed on land right next to endangered freshwater wetlands and swamp forest. This should be an excellent site for them to expand the Salamander Bay town centre. Pity that such an expansion would breach two state environmental planning policies on buffer zones. Oh well, environmental policies are just made to be broken.

To be fair,this is not just happening at Nelsons Bay. Port Macquarie also has / had a large koala population, but once again they chose the wrong place to hang out. Port Macquarie is a terrific place to develop. Everyone wants to live there too! But you can still find koalas there – they’re holed up at the Koala Hospital where they’re being treated for stress. But unfortunately there’s nowhere to put them when they’re discharged – their trees have been chopped down.

A koala patient

The koala already has enough to contend with. We’ve done our level best to get rid of the blighters. Wherever there’s a koala settlement you can bet there’s a major road bisecting it, and a couple of squashed bits of fur on the road every day. And of course, eucalyptus trees are highly flamable due to their volatile oil, so they go up quickly wherever there’s a bushfire. Oh, and our garden pesticides get into the waterways which is a bit of a problem for the eucalyptus trees and everything that needs water really.

Anyway, it probably doesn’t matter because the koala has a brain that has been compared to a pair of shrivelled up walnuts on top of a brain stem. So maybe they don’t know the difference. Well, I’m sure the coastal councils are all counting on it!

Maybe you’d like to support the hospital – http://www.koalahospital.org.au/hospital/

And maybe you’d like to express your opinion to Port Stephens Council about the proposed development of the Salamander Bay town centre  and the proposed extension of the Halifax Caravan Park into koala habitat.

Their address is  (But they probably won’t give a damn as they have another agenda and it isn’t saving koalas) –

Postal Address:
PO Box 42,
RAYMOND TERRACE NSW 2324

The photos were kindly supplied by Lynn Bowden who is doing wonderful work helping koalas in distress. Go to this link  to see a koala video

http://www.koalaretreat.com/default.php?pg=epages&page=108

See the website Koala Retreat for more information on the combination of koala conservation with koala captive management and a story about Matt the captive koala and Jack his wild cousin how they came together to help each other after 2001 Christmas fires. 

 

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