April 2009

This morning I received an email from Wendy, a woman who is trying to stop a car rally driving through her part of Australia.

Over the last few months many people in the district have been contacting AKF about this – because the rally will drive through an area that has several communities of koalas.   

The locals have banded together and one lady Kath – monitors the koalas every day.  There is to be a protest against the rally this Saturday and Wendy writes, I think the koala issue for down that way will arise as well as the human impact side of this wretched rally….the rally is taking over a public park there to work on the cars all during the night for the racing etc next day….people around the park will get little sleep with night lights and noise etc…. With peak oil, climate change and the world financial crisis which is seeing auto companies around the world failing…it makes me wonder how many people do not get it yet!!!....we have to change the way we conduct our lives and that includes finding other ways of entertaining ourselves (for those who need that type of entertaining that is).”

These words made me realise how complex the world is and I wonder how many people really want a Car Rally through this pristine part of Australia.   I am thinking there are enough race tracks in the world – but very little bush left.    It is not so much the Rally cars that could potentially destroy the koalas, but the endless steam of spectator cars with attitudes not attuned to the bush they will be driving through. 

When I was in Port Stephens the other day, I drove along Richardson Road at 80 kms an hour (the speed limit is 100 by the way – still too fast if a koala jumped out) and I was tooted by all the cars behind me.   In the past about 100 koalas per year were killed on this road and of course now there are less koalas to hit – so the koala deaths have dropped in recent years.      Our Government colleagues sometimes use the fact that less animals are being recorded as killed as an excuse that “measures of protection” are working, but AKF believes it is just the slow road to extinction.   

In Dr. McAlpine and Dr. Rhode’s work funded by AKF the simple message that “extinction occurs within two kilometres of major disturbance” should be warning to those in planning in Australia.  A disturbance can be a road or a housing estate.  This is a sobering thought and will be the message I give this morning to two ecologists both wanting better road standards for Australia.  

I know that AKF is so important in these meetings.  Our long history of commonsense understanding of the issues affecting the koala just brings plain and simple messages to the fore – there is no such thing as a koala friendly road… nor Car Rally either I suspect.

Fondest regards as always,



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