400 Koalas to be translocated from Otways to Lorne

This week it was announced by DELWP (that is the Victorian Government) that up to 600 Koalas would be translocated from Cape Otway to Lorne, after a trial was successfully run last month. Read more here from the Herald Sun.

We expressed our concerns on Twitter, and soon enough the Minister tweeted Deborah that it was only 400. Either way it is a huge number of Koalas to move. 

 

 

AKF has many questions and we think the Victorian Government should be more open with their information.  

  • The Department is undertaking these translocations after releasing this statement about 37 Koalas that were translocated previously.    

“While the majority of the koalas are showing initial signs of adapting to their new environment, unfortunately two koalas (of 40) have died, with another unable to be located via the signal on its radio collar.” DELWP Senior Biodiversity Officer Mandy Watson (Herald Sun)

If AKF is generous in our response, that’s a 5% mortality rate.  But, if we assume the Koala with the missing collar is missing due to mortality, we could just as easily say these Koalas are dying at a rate of 8% per month.   In the past we have seen up to 80% mortality rates so this is a plus, but these Koalas have been treated with kid gloves.  Will 400 of them get the same treatment?   Deborah has been around a long time and she has seen dreadful suffering from translocations of smaller numbers than this trial.  
 

  • AKF thinks there is good habitat near Lorne, but is it empty, or full of other Koalas?   It is not clear how much space is available for these Koalas at Lorne, or even where it is – AKF has asked the Minister for more information. So, imagine if you are living somewhere and all of a suddent 400 people turn up for dinner and stay.   For this to be viable, the area must be almost empty of Koalas for them to think they can move 400-600 new Koalas there.  Then you have to ask,  why is this area free of Koalas?
  • “... trial was carried out to assess the viability of translocating Koalas to a habitat of mixed Eucalypt forest.” DELWP
    AKF is pleased to hear that the Koalas are moving to a forest of mixed tree species, rather than their poor diet on Cape Otway.  But until we see the vegetation mapping, who knows if it is true. 
     
  • We then think “How are these animals going to be transported? In 4WDs, and a removalist van? Will they be kept in cages overnight? If so, where? Or are they to be captured, transported and released in a single day?    It would be a massive exercise – a convoy almost.  
     
  • Other actions that will be undertaken in conjunction with the four week translocation program include fertility controlling healthy females,euthanizing unhealthy Koalas to prevent their further suffering, and where possible, rehoming any orphaned dependent back young to approved zoos and parks” DELWP. 
    So, is the plan to remove Koalas from the Cape all together? What does this mean for the Koalas left behind? How many will be left? 100? 200?
     
  • Is this a case of sterilize to extinction?  
    Deborah and her team is convinced it is and if it is, she wishes the Minister would call it openlys – that the Koalas moved to these new forests will never have a baby. 
     
  • How will that ensure the Victorian Koalas will have a secure future?