Koalas are a vulnerable species
You’ve probably heard that koalas have been listed as vulnerable to extinction. But did you know that nine healthy koalas have died on Appin Road near Campbelltown in the past ten weeks? This brings the koala death toll on this one road to 21 in three years.
Citizens of Western Sydney have organised a peaceful rally on Sunday 3rd June at Oswald Reserve in South-Western Sydney to lobby for change. “We need to stand up for the voiceless and stop the carnage” says Ricardo Lonza, rally organiser.
What are the causes?
Despite cutting through key koala habitat, Appin Road has not been fitted with wildlife fencing, overpasses and underpasses to enable koalas cross the road safely.
Koalas roam on the ground as their mode of transport between trees. This puts them at risk of motor vehicle collisions as well as dog attack. As more and more of their habitat is destroyed, they are forced to roam over wider areas to find enough food and also to find new mates. This means greater risk of death on Appin Road.
Large housing developments being built near Appin Road will further reduce koala habitat, and also mean that Appin Road is scheduled to be widened. This is a critical time to stand up for koalas and make sure their needs are met during the development process.
This video tells more of this tragic story (Warning: Graphic images).
Koalas under long term stress
Koalas have been under stress for many years due to human activity. Conservation research student, Renae Charalambous explains: “The main sources of stress affecting koalas stem from habitat destruction. This stress weakens the koalas’ immune systems and reduces their ability to fight disease.” This has contributed to high rates of chlamydia infection that further jeopardises Australia’s koala populations by causing blindness, infertility and death.
In Western Sydney, we are fortunate to have the only colony of disease-free koalas in the Sydney basin. But these koalas are now under threat due to road developments that have not included appropriate wildlife fencing, underpasses and overpasses.
Renae says: “It is of utmost importance that we protect the remaining, healthy koalas.”
What changes are needed?
Conservation groups and citizens are calling for the government and the office of Roads and Maritime Services to address the issues around Appin Road to ensure the future of the koala colony.
“We want wildlife fencing, overpasses and underpasses along known wildlife hotspots on Appin Road and any new developments,” says Ricardo Lonza. “We also want important wildlife habitat and corridors to be protected,” he added.
Photo: An example of a wildlife overpass on a highway in Singapore (Courtesy Benjamin Yee, University of Kent)
How to join the rally
Everyone who wants to support our wildlife is encouraged to join this peaceful rally.
Date: Sunday 3rd June 2018
Place: Oswald Reserve, Rosemeadow
People driving to the rally down Appin Road are encouraged to watch for wildlife as they drive towards Oswald Reserve.
Lifts can be organised from Campbelltown station through the event Facebook page.
Authors: Lois MacCullagh and Renae Charalambous