“Habitat is what it is all about!” - This was the main theme of the guest speaker at the September meeting, hard-working and dedicated koala carer Clare Gover. Assisted by volunteer carer and friend Pam Allen, Clare outlined the current predicament of koalas in the wild, and detailed some of the problems and challenges of being a koala carer. Clare said increasing loss of habitat leads to koalas having to travel farther to find nourishment, and so often having to traverse open land, and to cross roads and highways. This readily leads to attacks by dogs - and even by horses and cows in paddocks - and to death or serious injury when struck by motor vehicles.
Clare’s graphic and sometimes confronting photos showed koalas maimed or killed on roads. They also pictured stressed koalas driven from their natural habitat atop suburban fences, street electricity poles, and even large advertising signs. In this stressed condition, koalas are vulnerable to conjunctivitis and other serious ailments.
Other points from Clare’s talk -
· Koala caring is 24-hours a day. Rescuing koalas is risky, and the caring, as well as being rewarding, is hard work and can be distressing.
· Government rules state that a koala, nursed back to good health, must be released within one to five kilometres of where it was originally found, unless its habitat has been destroyed. In this case, special application has to be made for relocation.
· Clare is in the process of moving her caring facility from Cabarlah to Hampton and needs to plant thousands of the handful of eucalyptus tree species that koalas eat. A new clinic is partially built but needs more funding. Money is also needed for other necessary equipment, including humidicribs for baby koalas.
(Report by Michael Rooke)