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New alliance forms to address desperate situation for koalas in Victoria

New alliance forms to address desperate situation for koalas in Victoria
May 2, 2023

Aiming to address what it says is a “desperate situation for koalas” in Victoria, the Koala Alliance Victoria - an alliance of koala protection groups, will launch on Wild Koala Day on 3rd May.

Setting out to “speak out for Victoria’s imperilled koalas”, the Alliance formed by conservationists Janine Duffy, Jessica Robertson and Melinda Darer, has been formed because what it says is Victoria being “a hell-zone for koalas (with situation) getting worse”.

Advising that koalas are either being deliberately killed by Victoria’s 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, Duffy states “a koala living in the south-west 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.

“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.

“A koala living in Mallacoota is lucky to have survived the 2019-2020 megafires, and is likely to face another one in her lifetime.”

Darer, of Friends of Alberton West, noted “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 likely to have her forest cut down by VicForests and the tax payer is footing the bill - $54 million in 2021-2022- for this to happen.

“We only have 1500-2000 of these guys left and they face losing their home so it can be pulped & sent overseas!

“It’s simply madness.”

Belinda Eden of Mornington Peninsula Koala Conservation, explained “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.”

The Alliance points out that 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, pointing out that the figures are not based on actual counts, but are an estimate based on a computer model.

Robertson, of Ballarat Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation, added “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 on 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?”

Duffy went on to advise “the government is blinded by this fantasy of koala overabundance. As a result, calls from koala carers & rescuers, researchers and citizen science groups to investigate shocking koala declines go unseen and unheard.

“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.”

“If we don’t act, koalas in Victoria will disappear without even getting onto the endangered list.”

Koala Alliance Victoria will launch on 3rd May, Wild Koala Day.

Click here to read the Alliance’s first investigation into the Victorian Koala Management Strategy.

Images: Koala road trauma near Portland, Victoria (top, credit: J. Robertson), trees left for one koala post harvesting near Portland (middle, credit: J. Robertson) and a young koala duringin the You Ynags during the 2014 heatwave (below, credit: Koala Clancy Foundation).

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