August 2009

One of the volunteers working here for the Save Our Koalas Rally on 25th September is a carer and she told me a story about a koala named Dianne and a little orphaned joey Fabian. Although they were not related, when a big tropical storm came through recently, little Fabian jumped  out of  his tree  and

ran to Dianne and she cuddled him. It was so heart warming to hear this story and indeed when I was working in the bush many years ago in the Pilliga Scrub with Jack Hanna, we saw a similar thing. The mother we saw did not want her baby looking at all those humans down in the forest and she put her arms up around him so he couldn’t see us.

When I talk like this to Government officials, they seem to me to be totally oblivious to the “humanity” that animals have. They tend to speak about them like “things” - populations, species, groups, colonies - but never thinking of them as an individual.

This was brought home to me just recently when a little koala called Kuta was found on Mt. Cootha near my home. A woman called Christine – who was funded by AKF in her first year for her Ph.D - is a part time carer and she was called to get Kuta to the hospital. Christine rang and told me the poor little thing was near death and crying because of the pain she was in. She was sent to the Australian Wildlife Hospital – and the vets there did all they could for her but she died. If you can bear it you can see her photos – alive and dead at this link.

I asked the hospital for an autopsy, and reading it makes you cry. Her ears had been bitten by insects, her tummy was empty, and she was suffering from many diseases. Her little paws had ulcers and there was a graze under her chin where she had clearly fallen out of the tree. She was probably only about two years old and we think that her Mum must have been killed and little Kuta was in the wild by herself.

This is heresy to speak like this when I am in meetings with Government bureaucrats. I don’t know why, but as I get more and more involved in these matters, and am on more Government committees, I find their brick wall of rational behaviour worse and worse.

If Kuta had been a cat or a dog, then someone would have been charged with cruelty. Who can you charge for a wild animal that has suffered because we, the policy makers, have not protected them enough? I ponder this more and more. Who owns the trees that we cut down with impunity?

If there are any lawyers reading this blog, I want to mount a court case that says the “environment” owns the environment. Not us, not our politicians, not the developers, or even me on my own property. The planet owns these trees and it seems to me that our legislations at all levels of Government are completely inadequate to protect it.

I am more and more convinced that we need a National Koala Act.

Fondest regards to you all.

Deborah