THE Mornington Peninsula Koala Conservation group has teamed with other volunteer organisations across Victoria to ramp up protection and advocacy for dwindling koala populations.
The new Koala Alliance Victoria is made up of organisations and individuals involved with koala welfare, including groups on the peninsula, Gippsland and western Victoria.
Belinda Eden from MPKC said koalas on the peninsula faced many threats, including starvation due to tree loss.
“On the Mornington Peninsula, a koala is likely to die from starvation as her trees are cut down due to lax planning laws. As a direct result, she then experiences stress-induced illness, often resulting in unnecessary suffering and death,” Eden said.
Jessica Robertson from Ballarat Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation said the alliance rejected state government claims that koalas in Victoria were “thriving and abundant” using a new, computer-based modelling technique, not actual counts.
“We’d like to know how the government knows that koalas are ‘abundant’ – where is this data coming from,” she said.
“It puzzles me why more do not question this claim of abundance, when everyone I speak to says the same thing, where have all the koalas gone.”
Founding member of the alliance Janine Duffy said Victoria’s koalas were either “deliberately killed” or were ignored “as they slip into local extinction in another area”.
“A koala living in the south-west is likely to have all her habitat cut down around her, or she might have her tree cut down while she’s still in it, and have her body bulldozed,” she said.
“A koala living in the You Yangs is likely to die from drought or a heatwave, or of starvation as her trees die due to climate change,” she said.
“A koala living in Mallacoota is lucky to have survived the 2019-2020 megafires, and is likely to face another one in her lifetime.”
Duffy said the alliance was formed to investigate and “rebut” state government “misinformation” about koalas.
“For example, there’s the Victorian Koala Management Strategy – 19 years late, and we’re still waiting,” she said.
“The draft Victorian Koala Management Strategy is indefensible – it’s weak, bitter, defensive, stingy about costs, and obsessed with koala overpopulation, but still manages to fail to offer any solutions.
“If we don’t act, koalas in Victoria will disappear without even getting onto the endangered list.”
Koala Alliance Victoria was launched on Wednesday 3 May, Wild Koala Day.
The alliance’s first investigation into the Victorian Koala Management Strategy can be found at koalaclancyfoundation.org.au/analysis-of-the-victorian-koala-management-strategy/