News - 20 February 2019

‘Koala Crusader’ has a message for Australians

Photo: Meghan is standing in the way of koala habitat destruction in her adopted state.

Meghan loved koalas long before she moved to Australia. Growing up in Niagara Falls, New York, she remembers her parents taking her to San Diego Zoo and marvelling at the koalas there. When she relocated with her husband and three children to Queensland, she was thrilled at the idea of being surrounded by our unique wildlife. But what she’s witnessed here over the past decade has her deeply concerned for the future of her favourite animal. 

When asked what it was about koalas that first drew her in, Meghan is reflective. “If you look at a koala straight-on, they're very similar to humans. They have expressions, and something about being in their presence seems ancient and iconic.

“Because I came to Australia as an outsider originally, the first two things I wanted to see were koalas and kangaroos.

"If you talk to anyone who's travelling here from overseas, you'll hear that same thing over and over again—'Where can I see a koala? Where can I see a kangaroo?' 

"These species are unique to Australia and found nowhere else in the world.” 

On just her second day in Australia, she spotted two koalas in Noosa National Park. “We walked out of the parking lot, looked straight up in the trees, and I saw my first koala in the wild,” she recalls with amazement.
Meghan says “Extinction of koalas is possible.”

Meghan was soon inspired to visit a local Wildlife Hospital, where she found out she was able to volunteer with koalas. Within just a few years, because of what she saw working there, she began to realise that Queensland’s koalas are really, critically in trouble.

“We need to stop cutting down the trees.”

Photo: Recently cleared native bushland in Noosa.

Meghan’s witnessed first-hand how the clearing of trees and bushland for development is hurting her local koala population.

“I saw the sheer volume of koalas coming into the hospital increase as their habitat shrunk,” she says. “Whether it’s for farming, whether it’s for developing, the trees need to be protected.”

Meghan now rescues koalas as part of a group she founded called Queensland Koala Crusaders.

“We get call-outs for koalas hit by cars or attacked by dogs, or suffering stress-induced disease as a result of habitat loss.

We just hope that every koala we release has a chance… and they're running out of places where they do have chances.”

“The policies have definitely failed.”

Photo: Bowie, now a captive koala at Wildlife HQ, lost her left eye in a dog attack. She’s also been hit by a car.

Meghan is blunt when it comes to the effectiveness of Australia’s current nature laws.
“There has been EPBC protection of the koala for years. It has done absolutely nothing. There are too many state government policies that override it that make it absolutely obsolete.”

Instead, she supports the Wilderness Society’s campaign for new, national environment laws and an independent body to enforce them, in the lead-up to the federal election.

I absolutely believe that the approval or disapproval of any development that’s going to affect [wildlife habitat] is critical to take to an independent value. Developers have their own agenda. Councils, State Government have their own agenda.”

You can make a difference today.

Photo: Meghan will never stop fighting for the future of these “fluffy, beautiful” creatures.

Meghan’s message to Australians is simple: do one thing to make a difference. By supporting our campaign for new, national nature laws and an independent body to enforce them, your donation could change the future for koalas and struggling native wildlife across Australia.

Meghan knows just how important this moment is. “If we can’t save the fluffy, beautiful animal that people around the world come here specifically to see, then we can’t save the thousands of species underneath them… And God help us, how can we save ourselves?”

P.S. Australians like you are backing this ambitious campaign to overhaul Australia’s failed system of environment protections and save iconic species like the koala. Can we count on you to join them?