Koala Ark to become world's first and largest wild koala sanctuary

Photo courtesy of Aussie Ark
Photo courtesy of Aussie Ark

The recent fires on the Mid Coast have spotlighted the plight of our koalas on the world stage.

Not only have we lost large amounts of local koala populations during the bushfires, but large areas of their their habitat have been completely wiped out.

Prior to the current fires, more than 90 per cent of koala habitat had already been lost with the remaining 10 per cent being fragmented and vulnerable to intense bushfire. Fires have an ability to decimate remaining populations within only days and it is frightening how little could be left today.

It's commendable that the public is interested in helping those animals that have been hit hardest in rehab. The reality is that's secondary to the issue of protecting what's left. It's already fragmented and it's already reduced.

Tim Faulkner, president and general manager Aussie Ark

In response to the crisis our koalas are facing, Aussie Ark, previously known as Devil Ark, in the Barrington Tops is adding the koala to its list of species with the creation of Koala Ark - the world's first and largest wild koala sanctuary.

"The time is right to put it out there. I say that in the context that we already protect a lot lot of land and we already have a lot of native animals that call us home," Aussie Ark president and general manager, Tim Faulkner said.

"As we move from species recovery, which is working with individual species, into habitat recovery, which is a broad landscape management, the koalas will benefit by default, but obviously need a greater protection.

Aussie Ark has secured 5750 hectares of wilderness including preferred koala habitat. Photo supplied

Aussie Ark has secured 5750 hectares of wilderness including preferred koala habitat. Photo supplied

"We're established - we aready have runs on the board, we deliver. And the koala doesn't need species recovery like we have for the other species at the Ark. What it needs is habitat recovery, habitat retention and that's the area of focus for us.

"We didn't just dream up Koala Ark - in our 400 hectare sanctuary we've already got up to 20 koalas in there. We've known that since the first day we fenced it. And they benefit from fire management, feral pest exclusion and all these things" Tim said.

"It's commendable that the public is interested in helping those animals that have been hit hardest in rehab. The reality is that's secondary to the issue of protecting what's left. It's already fragmented and it's already reduced.

Photo from Port Macquarie Koala Hospital courtesy of Aussie Ark

Photo from Port Macquarie Koala Hospital courtesy of Aussie Ark

"I think, in a complimentary sense, this is why we waited some time since the fires started (to launch Koala Ark). We did not want to detract from putting the fires out and supporting the heroes on the front line.

"But really it's time to think about what remains. And it's a really good opportunity for that," Tim said.

On Thursday, December 4 an appeal was launched to help create Koala Ark. The aim is to secure a self-sustaining population of koalas numbering 500 to 1750 and protect their long-term future in a wild environment. Koala Ark will also be made available through the correct processes for injured and displaced koalas to call home.

The funding goal is $369,000 with a breakdown of what it will be spent on listed on the GoFundMe page. To donate visit www.gofundme.com/f/help-build-koala-ark.