Magnetic Island Koala Hospital
Blog by Ange Fairweather
It’s funny how fate works sometimes. Serendipity was definitely at work for the koalas of Magnetic Island, in north Queensland 20 years ago. Halfway around the world there was Dr Ali Bee with a B. Vet Med (qualified) awarded at the Royal Veterinary College in London in 1990. On the other side of the world there was a koala population on Magnetic Island, Queensland in desperate need of a champion. A study in 2012 estimated the island supports a population of around 800 koalas but this is likely to be a conservative estimate.
The island is 75% National Park with the centre of the island being very rocky, inhospitable and difficult to access. This makes koala numbers difficult to establish. Koalas were introduced to the island in the 1930s to protect them from perceived threats on the mainland, but the island has it’s own unique problems. As well as the usual threats from car strikes, dog attacks and burns, koalas this far north suffer debilitating injuries from green ant bites around their eyes and on exposed skin of their paws and noses. The formic acid from the green ants causes the koalas to experience haziness in the cornea, which progresses to a corneal ulcer. This can cloud the koalas vision and disorient them, often wandering dangerously onto roads. Bitten exposed skin becomes blistered, peels and exposes raw wounds susceptible to infection. The koalas end up in a lot of pain as a result and often become blind.
Australia’s undeveloped land is not “empty”
To address a housing crisis, Australia’s federal government has set an ambitious target to build one million new houses within 5 years (1). However, clearing land for construction will destroy habitats, escalating local species extinctions. Almost 2000 threatened species live in Australia, two-thirds of which are affected by land clearing(2). Instead of viewing open spaces as opportunities for development, Australia should embrace high-density urban planning to protect its natural habitats.
Australian extinctions represent 5 to 10% of global extinctions since the year 1500 (3), and the extinction trajectory is projected
to worsen (4). One of the most biodiverse continents on Earth, Australia continues to extinguish endemic species (5) in part because its relatively small population fails to recognize the inherent value of its vast natural landscapes. For most of the past few hundred years, much of Australia was considered to be terra nullius, or “empty land,”belonging to no one.
When Europeans first colonized Australia, the legal myth of terra nullius dispossessed Indigenous Australians of any claim to land ownership. By deeming the land“empty,” colonialists justified taking
it for themselves. In 1992, Indigenous Australian Edward Mabo sued the State of Queensland, arguing that Indigenous people had preexisting rights to the land (6). TheHigh Court of Australia ruled
in favor of Mabo, rejecting the doctrine of terra nullius. However, the idea that undeveloped land is “empty” continues to permeate Australia’s land-use decisions.
To protect biodiversity and cultural values, Australia must overcome the idea of land as void of life.
Every tract of land earmarked for development has cultural connection, is already occupied by countless species, and provides ecosystem services (7). The government’shousing plans will further threaten many endemic species, including the iconic koala, as well as reduce Australia’s ability to reach internationally agreed-upon targets onbiodiversity goals
- and climate commitments (9). Although it may seem counterintuitive, Australia needs to adopt urban planning solutions similar to those in countries with high population These solutions include transparent and systematic planning that avoids high biodiversity areas (10), efficient housing that reflects shrinking households, densificationwithout compromising green spaces, and adaptive and innovative design to accommodate different uses (11, 12).
Providing safe and affordable housing for humans cannot occur at the cost of Australia’s distinctive biodiversity and culture.
Article by: Elizabeth Brunton, Theresa Ashford, Romane H. Cristescu, Stefanie Fishel, Michelle Ward
Tired of waiting for a Queensland EPA, conservation group launches own ‘enforcement arm’
The Queensland Conservation Council says new entity will take ‘proactive actions’ to ensure state’s environmental laws are enforced.
Queensland’s peak conservation group says it will launch a new “enforcement arm”, amid frustration at stalled government promises to establish an independent environmental regulator.
Every Australian state or territory – except Queensland – has an independent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The state Labor government promised at the 2020 election it would “investigate and consult on” establishing an EPA. That process started almost two years ago, and environment groups have grown frustrated at the apparent lack of political will to proceed.
An exciting koala release day!
One of the most heartwarming moments in our rescue work is the day when we set our furry friends free to roam the eucalyptus trees of the wild!
On the 5th November, the team at Noosa & Sunshine Coast Region Koala Rescue - Wildcare Australia had the absolute joy of releasing not one, but TWO adorable juvenile koalas!
Meet Pumpkin in Tewantin and Calico in Tandur (images left and centre below)
These two little dispersal koalas found themselves in challenging situations when they were displaced during the breeding season. Thanks to the incredible care provided by the dedicated team at Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, they received thorough health check-ups, While Calico required special attention due to dehydration, little Pumpkin received a clean bill of health.
They both received the green light for release and have been safely released into nearby habitat where they can enjoy happier lives.
It's a heartwarming reminder of why we all do what we do. Be free, little koalas.
QKC Annual General Meeting - VENUE CHANGE
This is to advise all paid members of the upcoming Annual General Meeting of the members of the Queensland Koala Crusaders. The details of this meeting are as follows:
DATE: 25th November 2023
TIME: 2pm AEST
At the meeting, members will have the opportunity to:
- Meet the supporters of QKC
- find out about QKC’s operations and finances
- ask questions about the operations and finances QKC
- speak about any items on the agenda
- vote on any resolutions proposed.
At the meeting, members will be asked to vote to:
- accept the minutes of the last annual general meeting
- accept the annual report
- accept the auditor’s report
- accept the annual financial statements
- elect board members (new closing date for nominations is 17th November)
Roving Restorers Program - Noosa Chapter - Friday 17th November
When: 8:30 AM, 17 Nov 2023 Friday
Join the Roving Restorers Noosa Chapter, at a property at Cootharaba, using best practice techniques to remove environmental weeds. Works undertaken will improve the biodiversity of the property and surrounding landscape.
Participants will be notified the day before the event of the exact location of the works.
Please arrive for an 8:30am start.
All tools will be provided.
Bring gloves, water, boots, sunscreen and insect repellent. Long-sleeved shirt, trousers and hat are essential (Workplace Health and Safety Regulations).
Noosa & District Landcare - Identifying monotremes and terrestrial marsupials - 16th November
When: 5:00 PM, 16 Nov 2023
Where: Rural Futures Centre, 65 Pavilion Street, Pomona
Cost: Free for NDL members and $10 for other attendees
There have been many recent revisions to the taxonomy of Australiananimals based on genetic testing, however, there is still much to beresolved. This presentation will provide assistance with theidentification of monotremes and ground dwelling marsupials in theregion, from antechinus to wallaby and everything in between!
The presentation will include some hints and tips on finding andphotographing wildlife in your local area, encouraging them to yourproperty as well as a few diversions into the latest research to make itinteresting for everyone whether they be a novice or a seasonedwildlife watcher.
Carl Billingham is an avid wildlife enthusiast and photographer who hastravelled much of Australia !n search of its unique fauna, from MacquarieIsland in the Southern Ocean to the Torres Strait Islands to the desertsof central Australia. Carl firmly believes that being able to identify andappreciate the wildlife we have around us is the first step to conservingthe biodiversity and beauty of our region.
'My Future Is In Your Hands' koala photographic exhibition - 24 Nov till 7 Dec
Mark your calendars for the community-inspired 'My Future Is In Your Hands' koala photographic exhibition.
The exhibition will feature framed works by local photographers and a ”Koallage” of photographs from members of the public. It will also pay tribute to the people and faces behind koala rescue in South-East Queensland.
What makes this event even more special is that the profits from the sale of these wonderful artworks will support koala rescue and rehabilitation services.
24 November - 7 December 2023
Speake Marin Koala Watch
Many thanks to HBP Milestone for their warm hospitality at the Sydney International Watch Fair on Friday 3rd November. Linda and David were guests of Speake Marin (makers of the magnificent Koala watch) and Stéphane Pagès, General Manager Asia-Pacific, Middle East & Africa.
The exhibition was elegant and so informative. Unique, limited-edition timepieces from nine innovative watchmaking companies were on display. They learned fascinating facts about what makes each of these companies noteworthy in the industry and came away with a deep appreciation for their innovative ideas and craftsmanship. An unforgettable experience.
The Koala watch and the commitment from Speake Marin, and the fact that the watches have sold in all parts of the world clearly demonstrates the way in which the plight of koalas is recognised globally. QKC will receive a significant donation from the sales of these highly collectable watches, and we are very grateful to Speake Marin.
“Seeing the koala watch in person was a highlight and gave us an opportunity to really appreciate the craftmanship used to create these beautiful time pieces. They are truly visual poetry.” Linda Barnes, QKC President.
“The world is watching; we must continue to do everything we can to stop the decline in wild koala populations in Queensland” David Mackenzie, QKC Treasurer.
The next stage sees QKC devising and enhancing programs to put this generous donation to work. We will be updating you all as we work through this decision process; you won’t want to miss it!
Itchy Fingers Upcycled - Koala Ottoman
Earlier this month, our friends at Itchy Fingers Upcycled donated this cool koala ottoman and our long time supporter Ursy Barnard was the lucky winner!
Many thanks to them both for their support for our koalas!
Land & Sea Brewery
We are thrilled to announce that we’ve just established a partnership with Land and Sea Brewery, makers of Noosa Beer and other goodies. The details will be announced soon but please watch this space for more!
Welcome our new Grants Coordinator - Olivia Anderson-Davies
Born and raised in London, Olivia graduated with a master’s degree in Wild Animal Biology from the Royal Veterinary College.
She gained first-hand knowledge of Australian marsupials while studying them as part of her final dissertation project.
Olivia has experience in multiple animal environments; from volunteering at ZSL London Zoo, conservation work in Ecuador and Africa, to veterinary practices and livestock farms. Having completed numerous grant applications before, she is delighted to know that her efforts will contribute to koala conservation.
Does tree planting really help koalas?
Planting trees for koalas sounds lovely and positive in every way. But does it really help? Is it the best solution to the threats koalas face? Does it distract from better solutions?
After looking at the evidence and the science, Koala Clancy Foundation have determined that targeted tree planting, in the right places, is the best solution for our region (Victoria). But it may not be in other places. To help you find solutions that are the best, below we’ve detailed the science and observations that have informed our decision.
VIDEO: 50 year anniversary of Port Macquarie Koala Hospital
Port Macquarie Koala Hospital celebrated 50 years this month. Sue Ashton was interviewed by ABC News.
About giant extinct koala Nimbadon
We can’t know what Nimbadon looked like for sure, but the fossil record provides us some clues. It shows us that it was likely a curious-looking creature. Weighing in at a whopping 150 pounds, Nimbadon was about five times as large as a koala, a sloth-like figure with oversized claws, sizable hands and feet, and strong arms meant for clinging to the canopy.
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Koala spotted using new Port Stephens underpass
Koala Cam picked up a koala using the new underpass on Port Stephens Drive, Port Stephens.
Ballina Shire to fund virtual fencing trials NSW
Virtual fencing aimed at reducing wildlife deaths on roads is to be trialled in the Ballina Shire, pending funding, after a unanimous vote at last month’s ordinary council meeting.