KOALA CAMPAIGNERS: President of Bangalow Koalas, Linda Sparrow with fellow members campaigning for drivers to slow down.
KOALA CAMPAIGNERS: President of Bangalow Koalas, Linda Sparrow with fellow members campaigning for drivers to slow down. Christian Morrow

Eight-year-old asks PM: 'Do we love our koalas or not?'

THE deaths of seven Byron shire koalas in the last two months has taken a heavy toll on Linda Sparrow, President of Bangalow Koalas.

She breaks down in tears describing the last retrieval she did of a big healthy male koala hit and killed by a car last week on Ewingsdale Road in Byron Bay.

Ms Sparrow, along with other members of Bangalow Koalas returned to Ewingsdale Rd last week with signs urging motorists to slow down.

Junior member of Bangalow Koalas, eight-year-old Christina Pawsey, was there and read out an open letter she has written to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

"Do we love our koalas or not?" Christina asks the PM.

 

Pictures of the retrieval that Ms Sparrow posted on Facebook produced an outpouring of community grief over the deaths.

She has also written to the Prime Minister appealing for him to do more to protect koalas.

"It devastates me, this last one was really horrible, to pick him up, with those horrible head injuries, you fight your guts out to save them and someone hits a beautiful koala like this and just leaves him there," she said.

 

But Linda always focuses again on the job at hand - the desperate fight being waged by Friends of the Koala and others across the region on the koala's behalf, against habitat loss due to development, disease, dog attacks and speeding cars.

 

"We are desperate for money to buy tree stock, we have all these landowners wanting to help set up the koala corridors," she said.

 

Ms Sparrow has been leading the Bangalow Koalas group for the past two years working closely with Lismore-based Friends of the Koala.

The group is also campaigning to get road signs made and working with Byron Shire Council to have them placed beside our busy local roads urging motorists to slow down.

 

There is currently a koala plan for the coastal koalas but not for hinterland koalas so the Bangalow group are currently recording local sightings and mapping them on the CSRIO's Atlas of Living Australia.

 

Ms Sparrow is also concerned at the impact further coastal development will have on koalas.

"Currently there are only around 240 koalas in the coastal area and developments like West Byron will cut that population in half and effectively lead to their extinction," she said.

 

"Koalas are just so iconic, they are symbolic of all our disappearing natural environment. It's not just about koalas, it's the whole natural environment.

"If the State and the Federal government don't want to protect one of the most iconic animals on the planet then what hope have we got?"

 

How to help:

- Make a tax-deductible donation to Bangalow Koalas. They need money for tree stock, temporary fencing and electric fencing.

- Keep a record of koala sightings noting date, location and take a picture if you can for identification.

- Come along to their next tree planting day on August 18 in Dudgeons Lane, Bangalow.

More information: www.facebook.com/BangalowKoalas/


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