So long associated with the Sunshine Coast, the koala is clinging to existence in the region.
So long associated with the Sunshine Coast, the koala is clinging to existence in the region. Geoff Potter

Funding for koalas is welcome but much needs to be done

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."

To help save the koalas or donate to Sunshine Coast Koala Wildlife Rescue, visit sckoalarescue. com.au.

terrible truth

 It is estimated only 100 koalas are left on the Coast

 The main reason for their decline is humans, through land clearing, dogs and cars

 If nothing changes, it is likely there will be none left in two years



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