'Nowhere else to go': A koala's dangerous journey to find a new home
Why did the koala cross the road?
Perhaps it had nowhere else to go.
A nurse has shared a “distressing” photograph of a koala trying to survive what she believes is encroaching development on the Gold Coast.
Donna Brackley, 40, was driving home at 9pm on Sunday night after a busy shift when she saw the koala crossing Napper Road, Arundel.
With moments to spare, she pulled over – only to see the animal freeze in the lights of an oncoming tourist coach.
Taking evasive action, she flashed her headlights and beeped her horn, bringing the bus to a screeching halt.
Ms Brackley’s night with the fluffy marsupial was just beginning.
The koala then ran to the median strip, climbed up a pole, and clutched on tight to the top of a road sign.
“There just isn’t any space left for them,” Ms Brackley told Yahoo News Australia.
“It was in a suburban area that’s been built up a lot recently.
“The poor little thing was trying to get across the road and nearly got hit by a car.”
‘Koalas need safe passage’
Satellite maps indicate the koala was trying to cross through remnant bushland which Ms Brackley said she has seen heavily cleared for development during her four years living in the area.
With no structured crossings for koalas or other wildlife on busy Napper Road, koalas must gamble with their lives as they search for new habitat.
Josey Sharrad, from International Fund for Animal Welfare, told Yahoo News Australia that koalas and humans can live together, but they need help from councils and government.
“With a rapidly expanding human population, we’re cutting down their trees to build our homes,” she said.
“Land clearing is the number one threat to koalas and the number one contributor to their stress.
“When trees are cut down, they’re forced to travel across the ground where they face cars and dog attacks.
“Koalas need safe passage across the landscape, so with things like roads they need crossings so they can safely cross.
Motorists guide koala off busy Gold Coast road
Without a designated crossing, the koala was left disoriented by an ongoing stream of headlights.
It refused to move from the sign, and Ms Brackley spent the next 90 minutes trying dangerously trying to coax it to safety.
“I wanted to get him down from the pole, but there’s so much traffic,” she said.
“The police went past as well, and I tried to wave them down, but they didn’t stop.”
“Luckily two other people pulled over.”
Together Ms Brackley and two other motorists improvised with implements from their cars to guide the koala off the road.
“There were cars coming from the other direction as well,” she said.
“We used torches so they could see us and he went straight into a bushy area.”
Gold Coast council’s koala conservation plan
A Gold Coast City Council issued a statement highlighting their ongoing work to help support koala populations in the growing city.
“The Gold Coast supports some of the most important koala habitat and koala populations in South East Queensland,” a spokesperson said.
“The City of Gold Coast has a citywide Koala Conservation Plan which aims to mitigate key threats to koalas across the city.
“Their long-term survival is a key priority for the City and this plan, which includes actions that seek to conserve and restore habitat, manage threats from traffic, bushfire, dogs and feral animals, support koala welfare and provide community education.
The spokesperson said the Council is implementing “koala habitat regulations” in line with koalas being listed as vulnerable in 2012.
“Prior to the commencement of the city plan in 2016, significant areas of bushland in the Pimpama and Coomera were approved for development under the superseded planning scheme,” she said.
“Many of these bushland areas with recent habitat clearing are related to development approvals prior to the City Plan implementation.”
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