Helping koalas and avoiding cruel and unusual punishment

Last words on the Cooma- Monaro Shire’s koala plan, comments are due on Wednesday, another threat to koalas in the area is mining. According to one of the appendices “ . . . With test drilling now in the Macanally NR it is possible that mining may again become a significant issue that those responsible for koala conservation will ne3ed (sic) to consider.”

As indicated in the map below, what is referred to as Macanally Nature Reserve is actually Macanally State Conservation Area. The difference between the two being the latter, State Conservation Areas, are is seemingly available for mining , but the former, Nature Reserves apparently aren’t. There are ten reserves between Bredbo and Nimmitabel totaling 10,814 hectares, however close to 60% of this (6,360ha) is in State Conservation Areas. So it seems likely that  ‘those responsible for koala conservation’ may  need to consider more than one mine, in more than one state conservation area.

Indeed while Macanally State Conservation Area wasn’t indicated as an area with ‘commodities’ during the RFA process, there up to 9 such areas and several more adjacent to Kybeyan SCA. Among the precious things that need to be dug up asap are gold, silver,lead, copper etc.

commoditiescmkcLike logging, mining is generally not compatible with koala conservation. For those responsible for koala conservation and for the animals dealing with such issues, the outcome can be increased levels of stress.  So it was interesting to read the outcomes of research, published in PLOS ONE, finding around a third of marsupials and half of the wombats tested for the research had active herpes virus infections.

Although the research is aimed at limiting the spread of disease in zoos, in wild populations, animals stressed with chlamydia or  sarcoptic mange where found to be more likely to suffer from herpes.

I have wondered whether those the NSW government have chosen to take on the responsibility of koala management are fully aware of what they are being lumbered with. Ending up with a stress related disease for attempting to save a national icon does seem like cruel and unusual punishment.

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