Lewis the koala dies prompting calls for endangered status
THIS month's bushfires which have ravaged parts of southern Queensland and the Scenic Rim have prompted renewed calls for the state's koala population to be declared endangered.
Australia Koala Foundation's Deborah Tabart said the fires had destroyed a large part of the remaining koala habitat in southeast Queensland.
She was speaking out today after the sad news that Lewis the koala died from serious burns from the bushfires in New South Wales.
Lewis made world headlines when Port Macquarie grandmother Toni Doherty was filmed in her underwear racing into the fire to rescue him.
Ms Tabart said 80 per cent of the koala habitat in Australia had been wiped out before the bushfires resulting in the animal being declared "vulnerable" under federal law in 2012.
"A recovery plan was supposed to have been written by 2014 but five federal ministers have not enacted that law," Ms Tabart said.
"Those ministers have done deals with the state ministers to cut all the green tape making it easier to kill off koala habitat - and these fires have added to that habitat destruction."
Ms Tabart said she had no figures for the number of koala deaths in Queensland but said she expected the toll to be on a par with that in New South Wales, where 750 died in the Braemar Forest and a further 350 deaths reported at the Port Macquarie Animal Hospital.
Ms Tabart said if such figures translated to SEQ, the natural koala population would not be sustainable.
The Daisy Hill Koala Centre, where there are four resident koalas, would be one of the few places to see koalas.
The plight of the Queensland koala was in the spotlight on the weekend when Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch announced a new Koala Advisory Council to protect the koala.
The koala toll in Queensland prompted animal crusader and TV's Bondi Vet Dr Alex Hynes, from Logan, to start a fundraising campaign to help the animals north of the Tweed.
Dr Hynes said the effect of the fires was catastrophic on the koala population, which was declared vulnerable in 2012.
After dozens of burned and injured koalas were taken to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Dr Hynes, her team at the Underwood Animal Emergency Service, decided it was time to act.
Within a week, they had raised more than $18,000 for koalas in the southeast affected by bushfires.
"We realised that the Queensland koala bushfire victims had received little to no attention in comparison to their New South Wales counterparts," Dr Hynes said.
"We got together with the general public and Animal Emergency Service hospitals to raise the funds to purchase much needed medical supplies."
Last week, Dr Hynes and Logan veterinarian Dr Gerardo Poli delivered more than $3000 worth of medical supplies to the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital Foundation.
The money included a hard-to-come-by antibiotic one of the few koalas can tolerate as they have sensitive guts.
Dr Hynes said she planned to deliver to more hospitals in the coming weeks and continue raising much needed funds.
"We want to rally together with the vet community to save as many koalas and wildlife as we can - their habitat is in a horrific condition after the recent bushfires."