Analysis of the recently released Biolink report, commissioned by the Sydney Basin Koala Network (SBKN), show that koala car strikes have nearly doubled in Campbelltown, Wollondilly, and Liverpool, and quintupled in Sutherland Shire and Wingecaribee (Southern Highlands) over the last generation of koalas (6 years).
Data on koala vehicle strikes in each LGA, correlated with ABS census data can be found here.
Stephanie Carrick, Project Manager, Sydney Basin Koala Network said that this data shows a telling correlation between development and car strikes of koalas in south-west Sydney. "It is inevitable that thousands more people, driving thousands more cars, living on land that was once koala habitat is creating an increasingly deadly situation for our endangered icon. The only sure solution to prevent further deaths is to find more suitable places for housing than on core koala habitat, which our recent YouGov polling shows 84% of NSW residents are in support of."
WIRES CEO, Leanne Taylor said that WIRES volunteers have seen this increase in koala car strikes first hand. "The vehicle collisions with our now endangered koalas in South West Sydney continue to be a leading cause of injury and death. The remaining chlamydia-free colony's most important corridor is intersected by Appin Road and these koalas don’t stand a chance of trying to navigate the heavy traffic. It is heartbreaking watching our koalas be further threatened as increasing development impacts their habitat forcing them to risk their lives in search of somewhere to live and a traumatising experience for the dedicated WIRES volunteers who have to retrieve their bodies.”
Advocacy and environmental groups from south-west Sydney are urging for action.
Dr Catherine Reynolds from Sutherland Shire Environment Centre said it's heartbreaking seeing dead koalas by the side of the road. "To run over one would be devastating. This is something that could happen to any of us. We have known koala kill zones around the Sutherland Shire. Looking to the future, the government needs to step in to address this. We need underpasses and overpasses in place to ensure it doesn't. We're so fortunate to have WIRES volunteers, but I don't know how they do it. I would not be able to manage it."
Save Sydney's Koalas are likewise concerned. "SSK is saddened by the increasing number of car strikes in the region. The movement of the Campbelltown Koalas through the landscape proves that this population is resilient and expanding. Unless authorities and developers stop the destruction of habitat and wildlife corridors caused by thousands of new dwellings between the Georges and Nepean Rivers this last large, expanding and Chlamydia free koala population will soon become unviable."
No government to date has provided koalas with adequate protection, crucial information all voters should be across when they go to the polls in the upcoming NSW State Election. With a large majority of voters supporting protection of Koala habitat and removing development threats, multiple parties and independents have endorsed crucial policies to ensure our iconic species does not go extinct.
Action by the next Parliament to protect Koalas will also protect many other species of threatened plants and animals. Essential new policies and key party koala policies can be viewed here and include:
New national parks and nature reserves
Removing loopholes that allow urban development to escape environment protection requirements
No offsets to allow clearing of endangered and critically endangered species habitats
Urgent gazettal of Koala Management Plans which are lacking in many local government areas.