South Australian Koalas were not listed as ‘vulnerable’ in May 2012 by the Federal Government because the State Government maintains that Koalas are “abundant and their numbers are not in decline”. AKF maintains that there are other issues such as genetic diversity, habitat loss, disease, dog attack, vehicle strike, climate change and the welfare of individual Koalas. A Koala Protection Act will ensure these issues are addressed through consistent management practices adopted in all States with Koalas.
The State Government believes that the Kangaroo Island Koala population ensures their long term survival in South Australia. AKF does not agree with this concept. The history of Koalas in South Australia is fraught with politics and misinformation. In the 1920’s nearly all South Australian Koalas were shot for the fur trade, and any Koalas that live in South Australia are originally from 18 Koalas brought from French Island in Victoria. In 1996 the Government wanted to cull Kangaroo Island Koalas, but after a huge public outcry thousands were sterilised and dumped in the Adelaide Hills, and this is still the fate of about 400 Koalas per year. The South Australian Government asserts that there are “about 114,000 koalas in the Adelaide Hills and Mount Lofty Ranges”. If this were true, thousands of Koalas would have been killed in the January 2015 bushfires. We don’t know for sure how many were killed, but if thousands were killed we would certainly have heard about it.
The SA Government has recently released a Draft Koala Conservation and Management Strategy replete with generic “motherhood” statements but no specifics, designed to offend no-one. Where is the money to provide incentives for landholders to increase and maintain habitat in the Adelaide Hills? Where is the research that will put an end to this ongoing mismanagement? AKF thinks the Strategy is merely a means to head off any potential Federal listing for South Australian Koalas.
The AKF believes that South Australian Koalas, like Victorian Koalas (also exempt from the May 2012 listing), should be protected. How can you protect one Koalas in one State and not another?