Sadly, horrifying bushfires devastated much of eastern Australia this year. As the smoke settles, people want to know how to help save the koalas.
Obviously, human lives have been at stake, but the cuddly Australian icon also suffered. Living their entire lives in and around eucalyptus trees, koalas are vulnerable to bushfires. In fact, wild koala populations took a critical hit this year. To make matters worse, it is a hit from which many fear they may not recover. As many news outlets reported, over 2,000 koalas were lost in the bushfire crisis.
All over the world, people are saddened at the plight of our beloved mascot, but there is some good news. There are ways to help save ‘Blinky Bill’ and his family.
And who doesn’t love a koala? Not only are they adorable, the Aussie marsupials are one of a kind. Scientifically speaking, they are the only member of their particular marsupial branch to have survived into modern times. To lose such a special creature is a blow for nature as well as for our national identity.
If you are wondering how to help save the koalas, read on to see how you can join the fight. Together, we can keep Australia’s favourite fuzzy marsupials prospering in the wild.
How to help save the koalas
Purchase our Bushfire Appeal Pack:
La La Land will be donating all profits of our Bushfire Appeal Gift Pack which comprises of an A5 hardcover notebook, A set of 6 blank greeting cards & envelopes, and our heart-shaped bauble to WIRES and Animals Australia.
You can purchase this pack here
If you live outside a koala area:
Many of us don’t live in or around natural koala habitats. This doesn’t mean you can’t help. If you are wondering how to help save the koalas, there are plenty of options:
- Financial donations: Money always helps to support an anti-extinction campaign. There are plenty of services eager for any donations they can get at this time.
Port Macquarie Koala Hospital is an obvious choice to directly help koalas. The hospital is focused on helping and rehabilitating injured and sick koalas. They are also affiliated with a number of zoos and universities, and contribute to vital koala research. This important organisation was flooded with donations after the NSW bushfires.
“We are overwhelmed and humbled with gratitude for the support and care shown by people from all over the world for our efforts to care for koalas now and to try to ensure that we still have koalas for generations to come,” - Port Macquarie Koala Hospital
Less directly, donating to the NSW Rural Fire Service helps control the devastating bushfires destroying homes and koala habitat. Our brave firefighters and volunteers need all the help they can get to minimise blazes.
- Tree planting programs: Greening Australia rejuvenates fire damaged bushland to replace koalas’ lost homes. Donate time or money to their cause. Trees planted in areas remote from koalas help combat climate change by reducing carbon dioxide in the environment. Plant a tree or donate to the cause.
- Push for legislative change: Many believe that if things don’t change at a legislative level, koalas have even less of a chance. Climate campaigners say the lack of legislative funding and support to maintain and protect koala habitats is disastrous. Help make a change by writing to parliament or by supporting the Koala Protection Act. This proposed legislation is focused on protecting the koala’s habitat.
“The Koala Protection Act will also insist that the Koala should be treated with immense respect, and that every single tree on the Australian landscape needs to be protected; not only for the Koalas, but the millions of other species living there, including humans. Remember: 'No Tree No Me'.” - Savethekoala.com
You can also write a letter and send it to your local member, the Minister for Environment or even to the Prime Minister. Savethekoala.com has a template you can use for a Minister or your local member here. You can print this letter to send to the country’s leader.
The address for the Environment Minister as of early 2020 is:
Minister for the Environment
The Hon Sussan Ley MP
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Canberra ACT 2600, Australia
You can write to the Prime Minister via:
- Join the Koala Army: Help the AKF by joining the Koala Army. Once you’ve enlisted, check out their battle plan and encourage participation at your school or workplace.
- Adopt a Koala: You can even ‘adopt’ a koala. Much like supporting a child in Africa, you can help a specific Koala from $30 a month. Of course, you don’t get to own or keep the koala at home but you receive a beautiful welcome pack with information about your koala as well as regular updates. Koalas available for ‘adoption’ are in locations around the country. If you are in the area, you can even drop by and visit your koala. It’s best to call ahead to make sure that your particular koala will be available on the day.
- Give Koala-related presents and donations in the recipient's name: At La La Land, it’s no secret we love koalas. On 13 November, following the fires which devastated a large amount of koala habitat, we donated a collection of koala merchandise to the PMQ Koala Hospital to sell in their kiosk.
We also donated all the proceeds of our popular 3D Koala Christmas Baubles for a week from 13 Nov to 20 Nov.
- Be more environmentally friendly: Taking care of the planet in general is also a great idea if you’re wondering how to help save the koalas. Battle climate change by reducing, reusing, and recycling. Collective action makes sense and every little bit counts.
Find as many ways as you can to minimise your carbon footprint. Take public transport or ride a bike. Shop at farmers’ markets and avoid single-use plastics. Purchase sustainably sourced wood furniture and flooring, and look for eco-friendly products to use around the home.
If you live inside a koala area:
Blessed to live near a koala population? There are a number of specific things you can do to maintain the population. Here are a few key points to help you help your local koalas:
- Plant koala-food trees: New trees are a great help to any un-homed koalas who need a new place to sit and chew some gum leaves. Not just any tree will do, however. Make sure you are planting the right trees for the koalas in your area. If you want to know more about how to help save the koalas by planting trees, there is plenty of information at com.
- Don't cut down native trees, and consider carefully where you plant new ones: Any native you cut down might be home or potential home to a koala. Think carefully before you cut down any native trees. Just as much, think about where you plant new native trees. A new native might be very enticing to a homeless koala but if it’s planted amongst too many non-natives, too near a power line, or dogs or any other possible hazard, you may inadvertently be putting a koala at risk.
- Consider your fencing: Koalas move around more than you might think. This is especially the case if their home is destroyed and they are looking for somewhere new to live. Make sure your fencing is climbable for koalas on the move. An unfriendly fence can literally mean life or death for a koala in a bushfire.
- Be vigilant at night: Koalas are most active after dark, exploring, socialising and wandering from tree to tree. If you know or suspect there to be koalas in the area, be wary when driving after dark.
- Keep dogs your cats inside at night: Domestic pets are a delight to have around but they are also potential killers. Even the friendliest dog might get a little carried away and injure a koala if it has the chance. It’s not the dogs’ fault, it’s up to you to keep your dog in check. Keep your dog on a leash and keep it in at night. If you suspect there is a koala in a nearby tree, keep your dog away. And never let your dog play with a koala. Even if your dog means well, it will stress the koala and could lead to health issues.
- Koala proof your swimming pool: Koalas are known to fall into swimming pools. If you have a pool, make sure there is a sturdy rope hanging into the water. This will give any unlucky koala something to grab onto and pull themselves out to be on their way.
- Support community Koala groups in your area: If you share the land with koalas in your region, look up a local support group. Have a look online, hit up Facebook or give your local council a call for information.
- Spotted a Koala in your area? Add your sighting on Koalamap: Helping keep track of koalas in the wild is vital in the fight to save our furry friends. Sightings help experts to know if koalas are in the area and whether help might be needed. In particular, a koala in a burnt-out area will probably need intervention as soon as possible.
A word of warning: never approach a koala. They are wild animals. Handling them should be left to the experts. Believe it or not, a koala can give you a nasty wound if it feels cornered or frightened. They have sharp claws and don’t respond well to contact from an unfamiliar person or animal.
- Join a volunteer program: Volunteer groups survive on local support. To find your local volunteer group, head to Conservation Volunteers. This way, you can be hands-on and do your part to save our beloved koalas.
Some good news about koalas
The bushfires and news about koalas have been upsetting for all Australians. Here are some more encouraging headlines about the world’s response to the crisis, including the ‘mythbuster’ response to reports the koala is ‘functionally extinct’.
“Tens of thousands of people across Australia and from as far away as France and the Netherlands are responding to the animals’ plight by knitting, crocheting and sewing pouches to soothe and keep them warm and quiet when they come into care.” - The Conversation
“A new method of predicting koala habitats has drastically improved the accuracy of koala mapping, with researchers hoping it will lead to better-planned habitats for the marsupials. Researchers from QUT and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Mathematical and Statistical Frontiers took the already-established technology of heat-seeking koala-spotting drones and 360-degree virtual reality imagery and added it to traditional ground surveys.
Koalas can be hard to spot in the wild, but a new three-pronged approach developed by QUT has produced far more accurate mapping results.
Lead author Dr Catherine Leigh said by combining the three methods, researchers were able to greatly improve the accuracy of koala mapping. "This is just a small case study, but it shows great promise because we were able to increase the accuracy by 75 per cent," Dr Leigh said. That’s a huge increase in our ability not only to predict where koalas are, but also confidently predict where they’re not, and have fewer false positives." - Brisbane Times
“As catastrophic bushfires burn in Australia, claims that koalas are now "functionally extinct" have gone viral. Many wildlife experts reject this designation, and several estimates suggest there are around 300,000 koalas left in the wild. However, the population is currently listed as vulnerable, and its numbers are steadily declining as fires, and other issues, threaten the animal. This claim has some truth to it but omits crucial context that would give a different impression. We rate it Mostly False.” - Polifact.com
“Aussie Ark aims to create a 7000-hectare sanctuary for koalas in the Barrington Tops. The not-for-profit organisation will use "exclusion fencing" for the $1.3 million project, which it aims to complete within three years. The project, known as Koala Ark, aims to secure a wild population of 1000 to 1500 koalas.” - Bellingen Courier
“There will be no new developments within 570,000 hectares of a 'koala priority area' in south-east Queensland, according to a new draft strategy announced by the State Government. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said areas identified as vital for koala conservation will be preserved in what is a 'once in a generation opportunity'” - ABC NEWS
At La La Land, we love to celebrate these beautiful creatures with artwork, cards, home decor and more. To us, they embody the Australian spirit. They are quirky, loveable and a little left of centre. Koalas, like Aussies are unique and hard to find anywhere else.
When people work together, our beautiful koala population will be preserved for many generations to marvel at.