Loss of an Icon

Patricia Durman, NPA Macarthur Branch

According to a 2015 report by the Australian Koala Foundation, there were only 87,000 (1% of the original population killed for the pelts) left across Australia. They go on to say that up to 8 million were killed for their pelts before 1927 when the practice was banned across the country.

Today it has been estimated that not even half that amount is left in the wild, and yet their status is still only Vulnerable and their habitat and wildlife corridors are being destroyed up and down the east coast at an alarming rate.

Up until 1986, when a small population of koalas was found in Wedderburn, it was believed that koalas were extinct in Sydney other than a small population at Avalon, which has since been lost when a development was allowed to cut through the centre of their habitat.

The Wedderburn koala population is now known to stretch across Sydney, with limited sightings in the Royal National Park to the east and the Australian Botanic Gardens to the west. But what of their future?

Development for homes is systematically destroying habitat and wildlife corridors, and with the latest legislation and development plans their future is looking pretty grim. If the Greater Macarthur Growth Area and Cumberland Plain Conservation Plan go ahead, thousands of hectares of bushland and farmland will be destroyed. The heat generated from these developments, and Climate Change, will take temperatures in Western Sydney to well above the 50-degrees experienced last summer.

Roadkill on Heathcote and Appin Roads have been and continue to occur, especially during the breeding season.

If we add the watering down of the Koala SEPP, plus the new fire and local land services bill, we can see that unless the Government makes a dramatic turnaround in their dangerous regime, the koala will become extinct in the wild long before 2050 as suggested by the World of Wildlife Fund.

Reference: https://www.savethekoala.com/sites/savethekoala.com/files/uploads/Imagine2016FurTrade.pdf

Koala Pelts. Image: John Oxley Library Brisbane

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