November 2010

Hi to everyone,

In recent days, Senator Bob Brown asked questions in the Senate about the protection and listing of the koala. You can read his questions and the answers here. If you read between the lines on these answers, it is the  same  old  story.      The  same  old story

which says 'we don’t know how many there were so it is impossible to gauge whether there has been decline'. No mention of the thousands of koalas that have died in the past from fur trading, no mention of the koalas that have died when we settled Australia into suburban blocks, and certainly no mention of the 25,000 koala deaths that have been documented in the South East Queensland region. It is just shocking to read.

These words show that our Governments are loathe to protect, to step in early, to take a precautionary approach.

As I have said on many occasions, the Tasmanian Tiger was listed when there was one left, 3 months before it went to extinction. Thankfully koalas are not at that stage now, even if the lower estimate of 43,000 koalas is correct, but at some time in the future we could reach that stage if our Governments refuse to step in.

When I read Governments words about not knowing how many koalas there were, that may be true, but we do know that 3 million skins went to market in one year in 1923, and that there were once millions of koalas on this continent. I believe AKF does have a good estimate of how many there are now and in the past, because we think about it daily, constantly.

I also know that AKF science is good. Recently I was briefed on a university research project on recent work in the Mulga lands of Queensland - a project partly funded by us to review koala numbers.  After 3 years and hundreds of thousands of dollars, the numbers came in at around 15,000. Interestingly enough, our highest estimate is not far off this figure. Mr Dave Mitchell, our long serving staff member who knows more about mapping than anyone on this planet, produced the estimate by mapping and modelling.

Why won’t Government acknowledge our mapping and the way we think and have thought for over 20 years? Because they are scared of these maps. Because it creates certainty. And coal miners, developers, road builders and energy builders, don’t like certainty. It is far easier to just bulldoze through it all with machines and process.

On Saturday night I went to a Sea Shepherd function and heard Captain Paul Watson speak. His words were identical to mine, not about the koala, but about blue fin tuna, about whales, and about Governments that repeatedly refuse to step in and say 'enough'. It was quite sobering, and as I continue to process the information it is creating a sense of 'what in the heck can we do?'. But all we can do is keep on. We can tell our leaders that words are not action.

I was inspired by Captain Watson and his bravery in the southern oceans to protect the whales. I am inspired by Jill Robinson with her bears, I am inspired by Laurie Marker and the cheetahs - the list goes on. Over the years I have been privileged to meet so many of these people. What they all have in common is their passion, their courage, and best of all, their supporters. The koala has you and I am very grateful.

I feel very determined today, more so than at any other time in my career. Yesterday I was on a TV program called Sunrise and I asked for Australians to really get behind the protection of the koala. As you will see in the Sunrise Video, over the weekend someone shot a koala, a little baby koala, 15 times. It is a sign of ghetto mentality and that is not the Australia I know and love.

Sincerely as always. Deborah