Australia’s obsession with killing its iconic wildlife all started with the legendary, unwinnable emu war of 1932; then, as the nation slowly adopted Indigenous food knowledge, our insatiable demand for kangaroo meat took Skippy out of the bush and onto the barbie.
It’s only fitting that the humble koala is next on the list of internationally-loved-fauna-we-should-systematically-decimate, but this time, it might just be for their own good: researchers have urged officials in New South Wales and Queensland to cull populations of the cuddly marsupial in an effort to stem the spread of the virus chlamydia.
In a move that shows you have to be cruel to be kind, the proposed culls are intended to protect healthy populations from infection with the sexually-transmitted virus. The particular strain that affects koalas is slightly different to its human counterpart and is non-transmittable between species (nor should you try), but it carries many of the same terrible symptoms.
“They’re really suffering in this condition, there is a lot of morbidity, a lot of suffering and it often does lead to death but what we find is that while in that state they are still infectious, they are still going out and infecting more koalas,” says Professor David Wilson of the Burnett Institute.
Prof. Wilson is optimistic that in the long-run, the culls would work in the koala’s favour, saying “systematic targeting” of infected populations “will actually paradoxically lead to an increase in population sizes over the next five to 10 years.” Somehow, that fact doesn’t make the concept any easier to accept.
Before the mercy-killings can take place though, Deakin University lecturer Densley Whisson says government regulations need to change.
“At the national level culling is not permitted for any reason… So I think only time will tell whether politicians actually listen to the research rather than listen to emotive arguments about ‘we can’t kill koalas’.”
“They’re just lucky they’re cute”, Prof. Wilson adds.
‘Ken oath they are. Get well soon, furry friends.
Story via the ABC.
Image via SkyScanner.