6 Apr 2016


The number of distressed native animals needing rescue in Queensland is rapidly increasing and wildlife carers say land clearing is a major cause of the upsurge.

A check of the RSPCA’s annual reports reveals the dramatic trend: wildlife patients jumped from 8,359 in 2011/2012 to 18,413 in 2014/2015.

Mark Townend, RSPCA Qld CEO, wrote in the charity’s latest annual report: “Our wildlife intake continues to rise and sadly with ongoing habitat destruction there seems little hope on the horizon that this trend will reverse.”

WWF scientist Dr Martin Taylor said the RSPCA’s native wildlife intake increased 220% in just three years.

“It is no coincidence that this dramatic upsurge followed the weakening of land clearing controls by the previous Queensland Government."

“Loss of habitat means koalas and other native mammals are forced to search for new habitat and come into contact with cars or dogs, or they become diseased through stress or starvation,” he said. 

Dr Taylor recently revealed that more than 200,000 hectares of threatened species habitat was bulldozed following the weakening of land clearing controls.

He said the increased workload for the RSPCA was not unique. Ten other wildlife rescue groups told WWF they were dealing with substantial increases in rescues over the past three years and they flagged habitat loss as the main driver of the upsurge. 

"The number of native animals injured in South East Queensland has almost TRIPLED in the past four years. That's the shocking start to this piece from last night's ABC News, that explores the impact of land clearing on our native animals."

One carer described the jump in rescues as “alarming”. Another noted that koala rescues had gone up fourfold in just three years.

“The trend we’re seeing is more and more koalas coming into care because they have nowhere to go and that’s the main problem there is so much habitat loss in this area,” said Anika Lehmann from Moreton Bay Koala Rescue.

Vanda Grabowski from Koala Action Inc. appealed to people to consider the impacts on native wildlife.

“I liken the land clearing issue to whilst you’ve been at work someone’s come home and exploded your whole suburb. Wiped every house to the ground. This is exactly the same thing for a koala who’s gone off having a feed he comes back and his tree’s gone, his shelter’s gone, everything familiar to him is gone. How would you feel if that happened to you?” she said.

Dr Taylor said the impact on threatened species from land clearing was real and tragic.

“The good news is there is a Bill now before the Queensland Parliament which restores balance and should rein in the rampant destruction of threatened species habitat."

“People can make a difference by contacting your local MP and urging them to vote for the Bill."

“WWF calls on all MPs to support this legislation,” he said.

WWF-Australia Media Contact: Mark Symons, Senior Media Officer, 0400 985 571