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Simple steps people can take to help koalas survive in their area

Four of the 10 koalas that died in the Lismore area in northern NSW this week. Photo: Marley Christian/Friends of the Koala
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Growing concerns about the future of koalas have prompted a conservation group to release an action list to help prevent the species from becoming extinct.

Friends of the Koala is based in Lismore on the New South Wales north coast, where 10 koalas died within three days earlier this week as a result of animal attacks or car strikes.

President Ros Irwin said the campaign was aimed at landowners and the general public.

“Politicians are not going to save us on this one, but people can,” she said.

“These are simple things that people can do to make a difference.”

Reducing speed in koala areas can reduce the number of koalas killed by vehicles. Photo: Linda Sparrow/Bangalow Koalas

The steps suggested by Friends of the Koala include:

Tell people koalas are going extinct

  • Koalas will disappear from this part of the world unless behaviours change.

Share social media posts

  • Friends of the Koala and other groups post on their Facebook pages and websites. Sharing these posts with your networks helps spread the message.

Protect habitat

  • Without their habitat, koalas cannot survive. They know their home ranges and trees and are stressed when they disappear. Stress can cause diseases such as chlamydia and retrovirus, which are often fatal.

Plant koala food trees

  • Most koala habitat is on private land, so retaining koala food trees such as forest redgum, swamp mahogany and tallowwood, and planting any that are locally preferred, will help increase the amount of habitat.Extending corridors between areas of koala habitat will give them safer ways of moving between their preferred trees, meaning they can spend less time on the ground, which is when they are most vulnerable.

Watch out for koalas in trouble

  • The key indicators of a koala in trouble are:
  1. The colour of their fur. It should be grey and white. If it is brownish, this is an early indicator of disease.
  2. Their eyes. They should be bright and without any crusty deposits (generally red).
  3. Their bottoms. They should be clean and creamy white with some grey patches. A dirty or wet bottom is an indicator of cystitis.
  4. Their behaviour. Any koala on the ground, staying in one tree or low in a tree for more than a couple of days, one that does not try to get away from a human or is not alert, or one that is in an unusual location such as a verandah or somewhere near to humans — any koala showing this behaviour needs to be rescued immediately.The earlier a diseased or injured animal is rescued, the greater the chances of it being released to the wild.

Drive carefully and be vigilant

  • Koalas hit by vehicles often have to be euthanased. Koalas cross roads to find food trees, and males can be seeking females in the breeding season (generally August to February). Young males also venture across roads when they are kicked out of their colonies by adult males.Looking out for koalas and reducing speed in koala areas can reduce the number of koalas killed by vehicles.

Contain dogs

  • No matter the size or personality of the dog, it is a natural instinct for dogs to chase and ‘play with’ a relatively small animal on the ground. It is a responsible action to contain dogs, particularly between dusk and sunrise, as even one tooth penetrating a koala’s fur is enough to cause infection and death within 12 hours.A good indicator of a potential dog attack is if the animal has a lot of slobber on its body and it is behaving unusually.

Save 24-hour rescue hotline into your mobile

Most rescues are reported by mobile phone.

Friends of the Koala is enlisting the support of the public to help save koalas. Photo: Friends of the Koala

New South Wales Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said the State Government had already committed $45 million to a koala conservation strategy.

“This was no gimmick,” she said. “This was something that responded to the chief scientist’s report.

“It addresses the koalas’ future in so many ways.

“We have the land acquisitions that we’re making. We have over 24,000 hectares that have been dedicated to flora reserves for the koala, for its future.”

ABC