Champion conservationist Bob Irwin has gone in to cyberspace to urge big business to get behind Noosa’s online Koala Diaries.
The father of the late Crocodile Hunter, Steve, was interviewed by Koala Diaries founders Carolyn Beaton and Alex Harris last week, when he turned the tables on them and became the interviewer.
The end result has been posted on the diary website and is also available on YouTube.
Bob believes this tracking source will be important in the rearguard effort to stop koalas being wiped out in South-East Queensland.
“Where I feel the Koala Diaries is exceptional is in that it’s getting the public involved,” Bob tells Carolyn before starting the interview.
“The public knows what’s wrong with the koalas. They actually know they’ve got to go out there and count them – they’ve got to know if the koalas are healthy or they’re sick.
“This concept is so simple and yet it’s never been done before, getting the public involved.”
Carolyn says the key was for every person who goes online to report sighting locations and data of the koalas to tell 10 other people.
She tells Bob that what has been coming through strongly to date is the “high incidence of disease in the koala population”.
“A lot of times we talk about the koala’s loss of habitat and clearly that is a big problem too.”
Carolyn says disease was an important factor that needs to be addressed.
“I’m not an expert in terms of koala disease, but having talked to the people who are, I’ve been told that there is a high incidence of disease in high value habitat,” she said.
She says it is clearly not true to say that it is just the loss of habitat causing a decline in koala health.
And she says the diaries are helping locate koalas in low habitat areas and “even in areas that are not deemed initially to be koala habitat”.
Carolyn says that whether koalas are being forced out into those areas by loss of habitat or they were always there, is still unknown.
She also urges people who see sick koalas to report them to their relevant wildlife authority (and the contact numbers are posted on Koala Diaries) to prevent painful suffering in individual animals and the further spread of these diseases through wild populations.