✦ Ask anyone throughout the world to name something archetypically iconic to Australia and the chances are very high that the koala will place towards the top of the list, if not even at the very top.
While Uluru, vegemite, budgie smugglers and kangaroos are also common answers, there’s no doubting that for many people the cuddly little eucalyptus-scoffing tree dwellers symbolise so much about the land Down Under.
Indeed, according to the Campbelltown NSW government website, “each and every year millions of tourists travel vast distances from across the globe to see koalas in their natural habitat. It is reported that 75 per cent of tourists travelling to Australia report that they hope to see a koala whilst visiting Australia.”
From Dorothy Wall’s publication Blinky Bill, later a staple diet TV show for so many Aussies growing up, through to advertising campaigns by Qantas and pictures of the furry marsupials with range of international celebrities such as Queen Elizabeth II, Oprah Winfrey, Taylor Swift, Serena Williams, Jennifer Lopez and Rafael Nadal, the koala is an Aussie cultural icon of identity. The Australian Koala Foundation (AKF) has reported that “koalas and koala tourism provided a $3.2 billion dollar a year benefit to the Australian economy and that the industry directly or indirectly employed more than 30,000 Australians.”
It’s why we at Brilliant Online are shining a light on the fantastic efforts of the AKF and the Save The Koala campaign during the month of September, with the last Friday of the month (Friday 25 this year) specifically designated as Save the Koala Day. Held annually, this worldwide event is dedicated to raising awareness about Koalas and their habitat and creating a more sustainable future for them to thrive in.
The threats to Koala welfare are significant. Disease and other wild animals pose a substantial, some might argue natural, threat. However, loss of habitat remains the major threat as humanity continues to expand its presence at the behest of the koala, with new housing and retail developments, roads and infrastructure resulting in eucalyptus forests being felled at an alarming rate. The devastating bushfires of recent times have also had a hugely detrimental impact on the koala population, with the WWF stating that over 60,000 were affected by the “black summer” blazes of late 2019 and early 2020. “The fires impacted more than 41,000 koalas on South Australia’s Kangaroo Island, more than 11,000 in Victoria, nearly 8,000 in NSW, and nearly 900 in Queensland,” it reports. AKF reports it is estimated there are less than 60,000 Koalas left in the wild.
Imagine a world without koalas? Doesn’t sound at all appealing, does it? So what can you do to help? Well, there are a range of fundraising activities taking place all throughout September that are easy to engage in so you can play your part – make a donation to AKF directly, organise a fundraising activity with friends or at school, adopt a koala, plant a tree, volunteer at a koala care centre, help raise the awareness of AKF and the Save the Koala Month campaign by spreading the word on social media channels and to friends and family.
Additionally, Mother Natured has specially devised eight activities to involve children during the month-long campaign, to not only help the cause but to educate youngsters about our endangered furry friends. These include: print and play with a koala mask accessible on the website; learn to bellow like a koala; watch koala YouTube clips; teach others about koalas; read koala themed books; hang a koala garland; search for koalas if they live in your local area; help koalas.
A world without koalas isn’t one that even bears thinking about. We all know how invaluable they are, not only as wild animals that need our care and protection but as cultural symbols of Australia the world over, so please play your part if you can, however big or small. For more information visit Save the Koala Month at the AKF website.
Australian Koala Foundation
Postal address: GPO Box 2659 Brisbane, Queensland 4001, Australia
Street address: Level 1, 40 Charlotte Street, Brisbane Queensland, 4001 Australia
Ph: 07 3229 7233 Fax: 07 3221 0337
From outside Australia
Ph: 61 7 3229 7233 Fax: 61 7 3221 0337
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