Save the Koala
Imagine not being able to “Cuddle a Koala” again
(I took these photos at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, August 2008)
The Brisbane-based Australian Koala Foundation (AKF) has declared September the Save The Koala Month, with the aim of getting the koala listed as a threatened species across its entire range. The month will focus on conserving the precious eucalypt forests that this beloved national symbol needs to avoid extinction, this gum-leaf chewing marsupial with cute smiley face, bright eyes (when it’s awake), and bushy ears. Activities include tree-planting, koala tours, and selling temporary koala tattoos.
It’s hard to believe that these adored creatures were once the most exploited of any native Australian species. But, it was almost hunted to extinction in the last 100 years when koala pelt became very popular in North America and Europe. By 1924 (the year 2 million skins were shipped overseas), koalas were extinct in South Australia and severely depleted in NSW and Victoria. The lowest point came in ‘Black August’ of 1927 when 800,000 koalas were slaughtered. Public backlash was intense and this was the last legal koala hunt in Queensland. But, habitat loss, disease, cars and dogs may finish off these “native bears”. The AKF estimates that less than 100,000 remain in the wild and most of these are on private land at the mercy of property developers and deforestation.
Not only are koalas a national symbol, they are also a huge tourist attraction, with 75% of overseas visitors coming to Australia at least partly to see a koala (including our family!).
Brisbane also has the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, where koalas are being successfully bred (more on that later).
See more information at www.savethekoala.com