We recently attended the Caring for our Koalas & our Environment Conference as part of the Hello Koalas Festival to find out exactly how our furry friends are doing, and to learn about the actions we need to take as a society in order to preserve their place in our environment in the future.
Here are the top 5 things we took away from this special day in Port Macquarie:
Early concerns for survival
Concerns for the wellbeing of our national icon (and other Australian fauna) go all the way back to 1863, when one of the first explorers, British Zoologist John Gould, predicted that the koala would surely become extinct due to colonisation. Fast forward 150 years and indeed, the koala is now placed on the Threatened Species List.
A national icon
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that these adorable creatures lure in millions of tourists to our continent each year. In fact, the koala is worth 3.2 billion dollars in tourism value and creates 30,000 jobs a year for Australians!
Get paid to help
Bushland areas, national parks and nature corridors all provide safe havens for koalas and other native flora and fauna to flourish. Recognising the value of these spaces, the NSW government now give grants to private landholders with access to prime bushland, to help protect and manage these vital koala habitats.
Koalas are not alone
Sadly, koalas are not alone in their battle for survival. As of 2018, Australia has the highest mammal extinction rate in the world – many of which have occurred in the last 10 years. It’s an ugly truth to face; more species have become extinct in Australia in the last 100 years than they have worldwide in the last 400 years! Current critically endangered species include the Eastern Quoll, the Leadbeater’s Possum, and the King Island Brown Thornbill.
Hearing a koala’s mating call is one of the scariest things you’ll ever hear in the dark – it is seriously weird! However, a research group from Queensland University of Technology are tracking mating calls to successfully identify individual koalas through the use of eco-acoustic sensors. The successful identification of specific animal sounds can help ecologists to answer important environmental questions – and in the case of the koala, to identify exactly how many koalas reside in a particular area, which in turn helps to prove the value of their habitat to the government and potential land developers.
To find out more about the festival and conference and how you can help, visit www.hellokoalas.com