Think of Australia and you’ll probably think of a Koala. Australia is proud of it’s cute fluffy icon and you’ll find companies adopting a koala in their name or koala in their logo wherever you are in the country. And let’s not ignore the thousands of koala related products, not just those intended for tourists. In our travels around Australia we were lucky enough to have quite a number of encounters with wild Koala but will our children or grandchildren have the same privilege?
Australia is growing fast, you’ll hear talk of a “resource boom”, but the scale of this is hard to imagine until you see some of the mines, plantations & agricultural operations. As a consequence some of Australia’s natural habitats are shrinking and their inhabitants displaced and dwindling. Some may say that this is inevitable and the natural way of things – we as humans consume resources with a total disregard of consequence.
But you’d think that when something as iconic and Australian as the Koala is facing a very bleak future that Government would step in to help out, after all surely it’s unaustralian not to support and celebrate everything Australian. You’d also think a nice feel good “we are going to protect Koalas” policy would be a great vote winner for the major political parties (even if it was just a cynical bit of PR) and let’s face it they could do with a bit of voter love at the moment. But curiously animal rights organisations are getting increasingly frustrated by the apathy shown by policy makers. I’m still a long way off being allowed to vote in this country, I still don’t really understand the politics, but perhaps that actually helps me see the core issues more clearly without political influences. I’d never really considered myself a real environmentalist, possibly just in a casual way but having travelled this unique country and spent time in some amazing environments I have quickly become very protective of my new home. I’m smitten by this extraordinary place and as a consequence I’m frustrated that those running the country don’t seem to appreciate what they still have.
The fact is that the Koala is increasingly under threat by disease, loss of habitat, road kills, dog attacks and the forestry industry. It is only sensible to do something sooner rather than later. Does Australia really want one of it’s most famous national icons only found in zoos? Australia’s resources are not limited to the things you can tear out of the ground, Australia also has a huge value attached to the tourism dollar generated by it’s other natural resources and those, the environment, the great barrier reef, the unique wildlife, including the Koala, should be protected – even if you don’t care about the ethics, even if you are not a “tree hugger”, you can’t dispute that preserving these resources for the future is simply good business sense.
I’m not saying that Australians as a people don’t care. I know a lot of individuals do, and in fact it was a news story raising awareness of koalas being killed in forestry plantations that prompted this post. It’s just that Australia, like just about every other country on little planet suffers from the never ending problem: those in charge are more interested in bickering with themselves, point scoring and passing the buck than actually doing anything that is in the best interest to their people, their country and their planet. But that’s politics for you.
September is Save the Koala Month, why not help by adopting a Koala or planting a tree over at The Australian Koala Foundation