On Friday May 3 koala conservationists Australia-wide are asking everyone to go outside, pick up a gum leaf from the ground and pin it on your shirt.
Tag #wildkoaladay or #wearthegumleaf so we can share your gum leaf pin pics with the world!
Gum leaves are the perfect symbol for a day to celebrate wild koalas: they are biodegradable, 100% natural and critical to koala survival.
Saving koalas is about saving our forests. Koalas are to gum leaves what chickens are to eggs.
Koalas need larger areas of eucalyptus forest than most people realise. Wild koalas are suffering from a perfect storm of attacks, and only by protecting healthy eucalyptus forest, and planting new forest, will we save them.
Climate change is harming koalas in many ways (1):
– by degrading the nutrient value of eucalyptus leaves (1),
– by drying koalas out due to less rainfall,
– by causing more frequent fires, heatwaves (3, 4) and droughts (2, 3) that kill koalas.
– by reducing fertility. (1)
In addition habitat loss through land clearing for mines (6), agriculture and housing, is starving koalas and forcing them closer to each other, and to suburbs, roads and dogs. Shamefully, Australia is a world leader in deforestation.
The stress of habitat loss, poor food, dehydration, heat, fires and social pressure is causing increased disease in koalas (5), leading to yet further declines.
On Wild Koala Day we encourage everyone to plant a tree, protect a forest, or wear a gum leaf to show your leaders you care about koalas.
Other ways you can help koalas on May 3 Wild Koala Day:
• Change your social media profile pic to a koala. Wild Koala Day facebook page has a range of wild koala profile pics available for free download.
• post a picture of a wild koala, tag #wildkoaladay and mention where you saw it,
• Attend one of the many Wild Koala Day events Australia-wide.
We must protect koalas if we are to protect The Bush. Koalas are an indicator species – they clealy show the health or lack of health of their ecosystem – if koalas are dying, the forest is dying.
Koalas are Australia’s climate mascot.
NOTES & REFERENCES:
1. Lunney et al “Koalas & Climate Change”:
2. Seabrook et al (2011) “Drought-driven change in wildlife distribution and numbers: A case study of koalas in south west Queensland”
3. Gordon et al (1988) “A koala population crash during drought and heatwave conditions in south-western Queensland”
4. Koala Heatwave on ABC Catalyst TV: http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/3191750.htm
5. Weigler et al (1988) “Aspects of the epidemiology of CHLAMYDIA PSITTACI infection in a population of koalas in southeastern Queensland, AUSTRALIA” https://www.jwildlifedis.org/doi/pdf/10.7589/0090-3558-24.2.282
6. McAlpine et al (2015) “Conserving koalas: A review of the contrasting regional trends, outlooks and policy challenges ” https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Peter_Menkhorst/publication/282590131_Conserving_koalas_A_review_of_the_contrasting_regional_trends_outlooks_and_policy_challenges/links/5c2438afa6fdccfc706b1d6b/Conserving-koalas-A-review-of-the-contrasting-regional-trends-outlooks-and-policy-challenges.pdf