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(AUSTRALIA) Protecting Wildlife Report: The recent roadkill of two koalas on Sydney’s outskirts highlights the inadequacy of wildlife corridors to protect native animals trying to cross major arterial roads #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – July.11: There has been a lot of reporting of koalas sighted along the Appin Road in the last month, and that’s a big worry because obviously, that’s going to end up in lots of fatalities,” Mr Lonza said.

#AceDailyNews says Campbelltown based wildlife rescuer Ricardo Lonza said he was called to the deaths of the koalas on Appin Rd and Heathcote Rd on the same day, but he was at a loss to explain why koalas were on the move at a normally quiet time of year according to ABC News

Yesterday at 6:01am

Watercolour of trees with a car on a bridge and wildlife underpass running underneath
A concept design for one of two wildlife tunnels proposed by Lendlease for it’s Figtree Hill development at Gilead south of Campbelltown(Supplied: Lendlease)

“A lot of the younger males at the moment that are moving from A to B are trying to find new territory, they are normally younger koalas, but the one I got off Heathcote Rd was an alpha male, he was eleven point something kilos, which is pretty big for a koala. 

“And he would have been the big boss in that area and he has sadly been wiped out.”

“A beautiful koala, it’s just like a kid laying on the side of the road, you hold them in your arms, you take them back to the car to remove the body, it’s just like a human.”

Koalas mother and baby
Two koalas were killed on roads in the Appin area southwest of Sydney on the same day.(ABC Illawarra: Justin Huntsdale)

The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage estimates 3,500 koalas were killed by vehicles on NSW roads between 1980 and 2018.

 “This is likely an underestimate because many koalas injured or killed by vehicles are unlikely to be reported,” the OEH said.

The local estimated population, by Campbelltown Council, was small at just 90 to 200, by comparison, there is 18,000 registered dogs in the same area, another factor impacting koala survival.

Tunnels put forward as solution

Koala tunnels under roads were often touted as a solution to help ensure their protection as they move about, but plans have been slow to eventuate.

A case in point is the new suburb of Gilead where Leadlease’s Figtree Hill estate is promising 1,700 new homes located in “rolling hills to vast untouched bushland overlooking the Nepean River.”

Dogs will be allowed.

It was a project targeted by conservationists and koala campaigners, convinced the removal of 17 trees in January this year to mark the start of construction should not have happened. The campaigners took legal action to stop the removal of more than 300 trees. 

“As soon as you start moving and cutting down trees and so on you are actually reducing their corridor, therefore you have to have these crossings established across Appin Road before you start doing major clearing in those areas,” Saul Dean from the Total Environment Centre said.

“In fact, nothing should happen on that site until we have those crossings in place.

“If they start to clear for the development obviously the ability to cross those roads becomes more important because you are narrowing and constricting the pathways through which koalas can move. 

“Before you start clearing koalas actually have a very large area from which they can move across Appin Road and therefore the chances of them being hit are considerably lessened.”

Lendlease said it was committed to building a koala barrier fence along the entire eastern end of the estate bordering on Appin Road, which would also be upgraded.

“While the fence will be effective in protecting koalas, many experts, including the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, recommend the inclusion of koalas underpasses on Appin Road,” a Lendlease spokesman said.

“We’ve offered to construct two underpasses, one at Noorumba Reserve and another at Beulah Reserve.

“Decisions on either of these two underpasses have not yet been made by the state government, the owner of the road.”

In response, Transport for NSW said it was working on upgrading Appin Road from Rosemeadow to Mt Gilead, but a decision on the tunnels needed to support the movement of koalas from the Georges River to the Picton River has yet to be made.

Koala migration routes around the Figtree Hill development at Gilead
A map showing the koala corridors around the Lendlease development.(Supplied: Lendlease)

“The location of future fauna connectivity on Appin Road is currently being considered, in collaboration with Department of Planning, Industry and Environment and other agencies,” a spokesperson said.

“Transport for NSW will keep the community informed of any updates as it works with agencies on koala protection and other issues in Greater Macarthur.”

There currently appears to be no timeline for the completion of the wildlife tunnels.

#AceNewsDesk report ……Published: July.11: 2021:

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