AKF's stance on koala relocation and culling

In recent years there have been reports that there are "too many" Koalas on Kangaroo Island in South Australia (SA) and some parts of Victoria, and that there is a problem of Koalas over-browsing the trees. The government's solution to this in Victoria has been culling; once in secret and once in the public eye.

The AKF will never condone the culling of Koalas or any other native animal. Native animals in Australia are surviving in greatly reduced areas of habitat as a result of the huge changes that humans have made to the environment. Until land clearing is stopped and trees replanted, there can be no solution. If we continue to reduce the amount of habitat available to Koalas, how can we then justify killing them when there is not adequate food or shelter?

There is a problem, a very complex one. Koalas in these places are eating out their own food source. But rather than there being too many koalas, the AKF believes there are too few trees.

These Koalas were placed in habitat that was not good enough in the first place, as a result of translocations.

In Victoria, Koala translocations began 80 years ago and continue up to the present day. These actions created unusual 'zoo' like situations which, among other things, support populations with reduced genetic diversity and vigour.

The Victorian Government effectively moves koalas from degraded isolated habitat into other areas of degraded isolated habitat. While one population 'booms' (since the Koalas have nowhere to go), the other population is decimated (due to habitat decline, edge effects and other pressures such as road deaths). It has created an unnatural 'source-sink-source-sink' cycle. While this may, in the short term, give the impression of having solved the problem, it represents little more than an ad-hoc solution to a problem that requires long-term vision and serious commitment (i.e. the need for widescale habitat restoration).

This situation only occurs in some isolated areas of habitat in South Australia and Victoria, and nowhere else in Australia. Elsewhere, it is the opposite: Koala numbers are dwindling fast. The Australian Koala Foundation estimates that there are less than 100,000 koalas left in Australia.

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