Victoria “has an overabundance of Koalas” according to the State and Federal Governments. Really? Koala management in Victoria has been confounded and let down by this notion for years and years, perhaps ever since the figure of 180,000 Koalas in the Strathbogie Ranges was first suggested in 1995. The Government figure is now down to 45,000 – 70,000 (compared to AKF’s estimate of well under 20,000), but there is still very little data to support the Government figures. The “Otway Ranges” Koala population has finally been acknowledged by Governments to only refer to the Koalas in a few hundred hectares at Cape Otway. About 1000 of these Koalas have been culled. Is this effective management? No, it’s not. It’s reactionary and culling will be repeated whenever it becomes “necessary”.
The Strzelecki Ranges in south Gippsland are home to the only genetically strong Koalas in Victoria, and these Koalas were devastated by the 2009 bushfires in the area. How can this population recover when it also has to cope with logging disturbance? There are serious plans afoot to translocate some of these Koalas to New South Wales. Is this wise when there are barely enough Koalas to sustain this unique population in their original location?
In other areas Koalas have disappeared over the last 15 years, especially in central and northern Victoria. Ballarat has a Koala ESO planning overlay but this has only delayed the effects of development. There is no monitoring to test whether the ESO actually works to conserve or increase Koala numbers.