Commonwealth Games surfing koala mascot under scrutiny
THE CONSERVATION credentials of Borobi the surfing koala, the mascot for the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, is under scrutiny from Northern Rivers koala conservationist Lorraine Vass.
The man-size marsupial was winched down from a Westpac Rescue Helicopter on to Burleigh beach on Monday, for his official launch.
He's blue, right at home on the beach, and given his bright-eyed countenance, has no signs of chlamydia. Isn't he a little beauty?
Ms Vass, Friends of the Koala president, said her immediate reaction to Borobi was that of frustration and anger.
"Oh, not not again," she said.
"We trot out koalas collectively when it suits either politicians entertaining their overseas colleagues, or use the koala as a mascot for whatever comes into our minds. But the fact of the mater is, there is so little being done to protect the real animal in the wild."
Ms Vass was heartened, however, when she read of Games Minister Stirling Hinchcliffe assurances that part of the reason a koala was chosen, was to bring awareness to the urgent need for funding to help save them.
"I sent an email off to the committee, saying that I would be interested in who you are talking to about these issues and how your messaging about these issues is going to roll out," she said.
"The surf and the beaches and the Gold Coast is fine. But until we actually see Borobi in action, messaging and drawing attention to the issues of the animal from which he is designed, I won't be satisfied," Ms Vass said.
The Gold Coast's koala track record
In February, WWF Australia warned the vulnerable species will continue to decline unless the controls are strengthened for the koalas of Queensland.
More than 40,000 hectares of koala habitat in Queensland has disappeared since the state's land-clearing controls were weakened the conservation group says.
The area is the equivalent of nearly one million house blocks gone in just two years, between 2012 and 2014.
Across Queensland, koala numbers continue to decline as a result of habitat loss and increasing threats such as dog attacks, road fatalities and diseases
City of Gold Coast (City) is implementing a koala conservation project for the East Coomera area, in accordance with the provisions of a Scientific Purposes Permit issued by the Queensland Government.
This project involves a number of immediate measures, as well as longer-term initiatives to help protect koalas and to protect and restore habitats away from areas of urban development.
Currently the City is preparing a Koala Conservation Plan for the Elanora-Currumbin Waters areas, in addition to a city-wide Koala Conservation Plan that will include programs to help inform the community about threats to our local koala population and engage local residents in conservation efforts.
At the 2012 election the Newman Government committed to investing $37.7 million for protected area estate acquisitions and nature refuge agreements on private land, as well as $26.5 million for koala conservation, including koala protected areas like Stewartdale.
Koalas were recently declared vulnerable to extinction in Queensland and NSW primarily due to forest clearing for housing, roads and farms.