Sunshine Coast koala numbers continue to plummet
LIFE for a humble koala is far from carefree.
Every day they face life-threatening challenges - from finding food, shelter and companionship in increasingly fragmented habitats as well as battling diseases caused by the stresses of human interference.
The ever-increasing gap between koala corridors on the Sunshine Coast through development and land clearing has resulted in the local koala population dropping by as much as 85% in the past decade, according to Queensland Koala Rescue's Ray and Murray Chambers.
Australian Koala Foundation landscape ecologist Dave Mitchell said their own figures, which are almost a year old and based on the amount of koala habitat and sightings, estimated there were between 350-600 koalas living in the Sunshine Coast and Noosa council areas.
But he admitted these figures were "a bit optimistic".
The Chambers brothers, who work at the coal face of koala rescue and protection, estimate it to be more like 100-150 - and say it is decreasing at an alarming rate.
Koala conservation groups from all over the country have declared May 3 Wild Koala Day to build awareness of the need to protect koalas in the wild.
The Queensland Koala Crusaders have partnered up with koala spotter Bernard Jean to host a koala spotting walk at the Noosa National Park at 4pm on Tuesday, May 3.
People are invited to meet at the information centre.
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Koala expert Janine Duffy said if we lose koalas, we not only lose part of our "Australian-ness", but we also risk the $3 billion they generate each year through the tourism industry.
"There are many reasons to protect koalas: we love them, they are charismatic megafauna and a flagship species, they are unique to Australia, they are an integral part of the ecosystems that ensure we have food, water and air to breathe," Ms Duffy said.
"But even if you take a purely economic standpoint it is utterly crazy not to invest in such a winner."