So long associated with the Sunshine Coast, the koala is clinging to existence in the region. Geoff Potter.
THE men behind the Sunshine Coast’s key koala rescue service hope a new State Government grants program will save the species from extinction in the region.
Ray and Murray Chambers, of Sunshine Coast Koala Wildlife Rescue, welcomed the government’s $800,000 scheme yesterday to support koala rescue and rehabilitation services.
The grants program comes on top of a three-year, $22.5 million Koala Habitat Program, which targets degraded koala habitats.
Ray Chambers, who has been saving koalas for five years, says although the latest funding is great news, the situation is getting desperate on the Coast.
“We are happy that the $800,000 is going to carers and rescue programs, but looking at the bigger picture, it’s not enough,” he said.
“So much money goes overseas for foreign aid and other issues and money should be kept here.
“People need to help koalas, otherwise we’re going to lose them. Saving each koala now is vital.”
Mr Chambers said he and his brother met with Premier Campbell Newman and were heartened by his attitude.
“He was very interested in what we had to say,” he said.
“He does understand what’s happening and what needs to be done. It’s definitely a move in the right direction.”
Mr Chambers said the service received no government funding.
“We don’t get grants. We go to work to earn money and the money we earn goes towards our work,” he said.
While there were rehabilitation and rescue programs for koalas in place, Mr Chambers warned that the Coast was losing the cuddly creatures rapidly.
“Ninety-eight per cent of koala habitat on the eastern seaboard has been cleared for buildings or homes. It’s gotta stop,” he said.
“Clearing habitat has gotta be a no-no. They (the government) need to start zoning koala habitats.
“No matter how much money can be gained from the infrastructure, they need to say no, or there will be nothing left for the future.”
Mr Chambers said the government also needed to work with the local councils to police animal cruelty laws.
“People’s dogs are an issue, especially re-offending dogs,” he said. “So many dogs have reoffended in such a short period of time and the owners don’t give a toss. The kids will be next after the koalas if nothing is done.”
MORE KOALAS TO BE SAVED WITH NEW QLD GOVERNMENT FUNDING APN Newsdesk - 13th Oct 2012 9:00 AM
THE State Government will spend $200,000 a year for four years as part of a plan to help Queensland’s struggling koala population.
Environment Minister Andrew Powell’s announcement did little to entertain the koala brought to the Parliament’s Speakers Green for the occasion.
It happily munched on leaves as the minister explained how the $800,000 package would work.
Organisations directly involved with helping sick, injured and orphaned koalas may be eligible for one of the grants.
“The Koala Rescue and Rehabilitation Grants will expand the scope of koala conservation programs beyond habitat protection and enhancement,” Mr Powell said.
The grants are part of a $26.5 million Investing in our Koalas policy.
Earlier this year, the state launched a three-year, $22.5 million Koala Habitat Program, earlier to target degraded koala habitat for acquisition and rehabilitation.
More than 70 applications for the Koala Habitat Program have been received to date and South-east Queensland landholders have another two weeks to lodge expressions of interest with submissions closing on October 31.
Applications for the rescue and rehabilitation grants opened on Friday and will close on December 7.