Lifestyle

Jack & The Traffic Light Pole: Koalas On The Road To Extinction

Jack & The Traffic Light Pole

Friday 24th August 2018, 6:30pm at the corner of Wintergreen Drive and Olsen Avenue, Parkwood on the Gold Coast. It is dark and the sound of traffic hurtling by can be heard by pedestrians as commuters drive home after the end of a working week.

The traffic lights turn red, enough time for some commuters to realise something strange and out of place is clinging onto the traffic light pole. Hanging on surrounded by distressing noise, smells and flashing lights is a koala.

Koalas Gold Coast

Koalas are dispersing at this time of the year, Karen Scott, President of Wildcare stated. The issue is that with dwindling habitat they have nowhere to go and get themselves into life-threatening situations.

Another Koala Call

A concerned member of the public had called up the Wildcare hotline informing the receptionist that a koala was clinging to a traffic light. I was sitting down in the lounge room about to relax after a busy week of work and Heidi, my wife, gets the call from Wildcare to go out and rescue this koala.

20 minutes later we arrive, and three other Wildcare volunteers had got there just before us and were assessing the situation. G-Link, the Gold Coast public tram system, was called and two staff came out to ensure that we could rescue the koala in between tram arrivals.

Being on a busy intersection, rescuing this koala had to be done delicately to avoid the timid frightened animal from bounding into the oncoming traffic.

Surrounded by four wildlife rescue volunteers with poles, nets and blankets and myself with a net, fortunately the koala came down the traffic light post and was captured without incident.

Koalagate

Ashley, one of the first Wildcare volunteers on site at the rescue assessing the situation.

Jack the Ripper

The member of the public who reported the koala was called Jack, and so we named the koala after him. Jack you are  ripper! Good on you for caring enough to not only call but stay by the koala till help came.

On social media Heidi thanked Jack, the Wildcare  volunteers, and the staff from G-Link for all they had done to rescue this koala. She had posted this with images I had taken of Jack up the traffic light pole onto Wildcare’s Facebook page. Within minutes people began engaging with the post, liking, commenting and voicing their anger and frustration at the demise of koalas and their habitat in south east Queensland.

Koala care

Within minutes of saying thank you to all involved in the rescue of the koala at a busy intersection in a Facebook post the flood of emotion shows just how strongly locals care about their wildlife.

Silent But Not Defeated

As of 5pm Sunday 26th August 2018 there are 1,400 likes, heart, sad and angry emojis from Facebook users. There are 302 comments and 992 shares. People who are informed about what is happening to our koalas are deeply frustrated with how lax environmental legislation is seeing the wholesale destruction of koala habitat on the Gold Coast.

Here are a few of the comments of people voicing their frustration and concerns:

Gold Coast koala’s are on the way to extinction and this is a sad glimpse of the future!!
This breaks my heart knowing that this koala used to have a home but the development of the light rail destroyed it and all the other animals homes 😢
Elise Young

The above comment refers to the light rail that destroyed an already diminished parcel of koala habitat. This is not the first koala that Heidi had a call out for from this area.

Koala Islands

Only months earlier, which I have mentioned in my blog article, Koala Islands, Heidi was called out to pick up a male koala who had been found on the light rail tracks. Staff employed by G-Link called Wildcare and Heid and I went out to the call. This koala had climbed over the koala-proof fencing and onto the tram tracks

Hemmed in by expanding infrastructure and over-development these koala habitats and wildlife corridors are becoming fragmented from each other. Like the rising sea levels, these islands are becoming smaller and smaller, and like the expected plight of the polar bear, may some day drown in the sea of destructive human-induced actions.

Koalas in crisis

Like the polar bears and icebergs, koalas life rafts – connected koala habitats are disappearing.

Koalagate

It’s a disgrace what the Gold Cosst City Council has let happen. First, ALL the trees have been cleared on the Colgate Palmolive site on Captain Cook Drive Parkwood which had a huge koala population. Now they are considering letting the Parkwood Golf Course build a large retirement village on their property, exactly where a sign had gone up recently warning drivers to watch out for Koalas. No wonder the poor Koala ended up a light pole , they are running out of trees. Considering Parkwood is now so over populated with the Hospital, University, Commonwealth Games units and the Light Rail our wildlife are running out of places to live. The area is only so big to fit in so much infrastructure, the roads are crazy and with less and less bush and vegetation it no wonder we see koalas and kangaroos on our roads. 😩
Tracey Blair

Heidi was entrusted to look after the rescued koala overnight, and so we began the difficult task of finding ‘leaf’ for our four-legged charge. We drove along Napper Road and we went past the Parkwood Golf Course. We stopped the car thinking where are we going to find suitable eucalypt leaves at this time of night? As we did, two ladies who had witnessed the rescue earlier on walked by.

These two women said that we may as well get leaf here as all this land at the Parkwood Golf Course was going to be cleared for a retirement village.

Maybe it is time for an investigation into the goings on of Gold Coast City Council to help bring about the preservation of precious koala habitat.

Only a couple of weeks ago I was looking on Google maps at the bushland left in the Parkwood area and discovered that the Colgate Palmolive site on Captain Cook Drive was to be cleared. I was saddened to read in this post that it has been cleared now, and as Tracey Blair writes, “and with less and less bush and vegetation it (is) no wonder we see koalas and kangaroos on our roads.”

Koala extinction

It’s time for a red light on the destruction of koala habitat on the Gold Coast.

And on and on the comments go…

We have Koalas living behind our house in Helensvale and unfortunately the Qld Govt are building a highway where these Koalas are currently living and mating, I contacted the Department of Transport only to be told that a survey had been done and it was decided that the road must go ahead regardless, I personally find this totally unfair and a disregard for these animal plus the Kangaroos who feed in our street and land at our rear, where will they go and how does this Government Department think that this is progress. These protected species will be forced on to surrounding roads to seek food and a place to live, well I believe that the Government should consider these poor animals future before it’s too late and they take actions to kill off these animals who live in harmony with the residents in this location and our so called MP has done nothing to halt this situation, so I know who will receive my vote in the next election in protest of this governments actions !!!!
David Griffiths

Koalas in crisis

Surrounded by noise and pollution, this frightened koala clings onto a traffic light pole at a busy intersection on the Gold Coast.

and…

Over-Development

In recent months I had a conversation with a gccc Councillor. At the time what he said,
I didn’t agree with 100%, BUT now I can see he was right.
Albert Shire & now GCCC over the last 4 decades has got it wrong with development west of the “M1” . All the land having been cleared for housing has created gridlock on our roads, and the destruction of the Wild life’s natural homes. He went on to say development should be going UP along the Coast, not OUT destroying the land which has created multiple issues. Final he did say the population on the gc should of been capped 15yrs ago to stop the over populated area we have been left with of today.
Jennifer Veal McConnell

and on and on these comments read.

These comments speak of constituents whose voices are not heard by their representatives. Loss of koala and wildlife habitat is a big concern to many. It is time that our wildlife is respected as well as residents.

Misinformation & Propaganda

To add insult to injury, Gold Coast City Council Mayor Tom Tate has written to former Commonwealth Games Minister Kate Jones to seek permission to have the blue koala mascot, Borobi, which is gathering dust in storage at the Queensland Museum, returned and invited to various social events across the Gold Coast. [1]

The Commonwealth Games which in many people’s opinions was a complete financial shamble that many would like to forget about. It is sad to think that while precious koala habitat is lost every month on the Gold Coast at the hands of the Gold Coast City Council, and at this rate Borobi, the vulgar blue koala, will be the only memory of these iconic animals on the Gold Coast.

Gold Coast koalas

The best form of defence is denial. Gold Coast City Council Mayor’s Facebook Trumpesque response to the koala rescue on Friday was that it was ‘fake news’.

Greenwashing

And so the propaganda and disinformation continues. The work of wildlife volunteers was discredited on Friday night when a concerned member of the public private messaged my photo of Jack the Koala up the traffic light pole to Mayor Tom Tate’s Facebook account.

The person received a message back from the Gold Coast City Council Mayor’s Facebook account to the effect that this koala incident didn’t happen, that it was ‘fake news’…

Koala Krusaders

There are numerous individuals, wildlife organisations, volunteers and professionals who work tirelessly to preserve our wildlife. They are fighting a losing battle if we cannot have people in power who care enough to be a voice for our wildlife and for those humble amazing people who do so much.

Saturday morning, the day after the rescue, Karen Scott, the president of Wildcare, who directed the rescue, was interviewed by ABC Radio Gold Coast and an article appeared on the Sunday in the Sunday Mail which has a Queensland-wide distributorship. It is time koalas voices aren’t drowned out and hopefully this may be the start of  a whisper that turns into a roar.

Sunday Mail article 26th August 2018

The Sunday Mail picked up the story of Jack the koala publishing it on Sunday 26th August 2018.

Koalagate

Land clearing and destruction of koala habitat needs to be on the agenda in the way that live animal exports has been. There needs to be greater awareness by the average Joe about what is happening in our backyard.

An investigation followed by action needs to be taken to put a stop to any further destruction of koala habitat if this iconic species is going to have any chance of long-term survival.

True Blue Grey & Gold

The koalas need every day people backed by the media on their side, and it can’t happen a moment too soon. This incident, one amongst countless others, needs to be the beginning of greater awareness.

Time isn’t on Jack’s side. Once his forest home is gone sold to hungry developers it is gone forever…Imagine a world where the only forest left is a concrete jungle inhabited by humans and where our wildlife is a distant memory. Imagine a world where the only koala we see is a paid clown in a blue koala suit.

Koalas in crisis

This is Jack on Saturday morning after the previous night’s rescue, before being transported to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital for a check up. You can tell he is a boy by his distinct gland on his chest.

Latest News On Jack

I dropped off Jack the Koala at Currumbin Wildlife Hospital on the Saturday morning. Latest report from the president of Wildcare, Karen Scott, is that he is healthy and well.

An application has been made to relocate Jack as suitable habitat within 5km is becoming increasingly difficult to find.

EPA regulations state that koalas need to be released within 5km from where they were found. The reason is that koalas will often return back to their range many times having to cross dangerous humansscapes – busy roads and backyards with dogs. It’s not easy being a koala these days on the Gold Coast.

A big thank you goes out for the incredible people not only on the Gold Coast but throughout Australia from volunteers to scientists and vetenerians and everyone in between for your thankless work…the amazing work you all do is incredibly humbling.

Koala Care

Reiterating Heidi’s post on the Wildcare Facebook page:

If you see a koala 🐨 who needs help to get to safety, please phone our 24/7 hotline any time day or night ☎️ 07) 5527 2444 and our volunteers will be there to help.

Bibliography:

[1] https://www.9news.com.au/2018/08/08/16/32/borobi-where-is-commonwealth-games-mascot-now

* Koala images are copyrighted to David Cuschieri. Please ask for permission to use these images and acknowledge their source.

 

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