VOICES FOR THE EARTH: Save our koalas from extinction
IN 1973, when Stan and Magda Mussared moved to their 1.6ha Waterview Heights block, there were only three trees left on the property. The two largest were a forest red gum and an ironbark at the front. These impressive trees now have plenty of company as over the years the pair have enthusiastically revegetated their land so that it now has extensive tree and shrub coverage.
A sign of their success in creating desirable habitat for native species is the increasing number of native fauna visiting their property. These include rufous bettongs, echidnas, and koalas as well as birds such as whistling ducks, bronze wing cuckoos, lorikeets, pheasant coucal and square-tailed kites. Stan and Magda are particularly delighted with the koalas they see there.
While they love watching their koala visitors, they are both very concerned about the future of this iconic species.
“Koalas occur nowhere else in the world and we have a duty to protect them. It’s just a thrill to see one on a tree in our property every so often,” Magda said.
Stan is concerned about the impact development has on koala survival. A few years ago he wrote: “forested areas are cleared to make way for our developments – urban areas, agriculture, roads and highways – and loss of habitat, the number one threat to a healthy koala population, takes place.
“The precious habitat areas that remain are fragmented and isolated, and on koalas trying to exist in these pockets the pressure builds and serious issues quickly arise.
“There is now excessive energy expenditure on greater ground movement as koalas search for the scattered food trees. As they move across highways, fences, car parks, and backyards, they face a myriad of problems from motor vehicles, dogs and swimming pools.
“The greatly reduced habitat areas lead to a greater density in the remaining koala population. There is now increased competition for food and many are forced to eat poorer quality leaf. There is also a greater tendency for inbreeding, and thus a lower genetic quality animal.”
The Mussareds believe governments need to do much more to protect koalas and their habitat in order to save them from extinction.