5 Sept 2023


Claude “the leaf thief” has found the best all-you-can-eat buffet a koala could hope for – and he hasn’t held back.

For weeks now, this large male koala has been raiding Eastern Forest Nursery in South Gundurimba in the New South Wales Northern Rivers region.

Nursery owner Humphrey Herington named the gum gourmand “Claude” because of his large claws.

“Claude has eaten thousands of seedlings. He’s tucked into every type of koala food tree we grow here. Clearly Claude thinks this is a restaurant but if that was the case his bill would be about $6,000 by now,” Mr Herington said.

“I put a towel around him and moved him a few hundred metres down the road to a big tree at my neighbour’s place. He was pretty stroppy when I picked him up. Two days later Claude was back and he’s been hanging around getting into the seedlings every night,” he said.

One of the photos that launched Claude’s fame. © Eastern Forest Nursery

Eastern Forest Nursery supplies seedlings for koala habitat restoration projects by Bangalow Koalas and the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia.

“These seedlings are well watered and fertilised and are top shelf food for a koala. Claude has developed champagne tastes and with his what-are-you-looking-at attitude has decided he is not to be denied,” said Tanya Pritchard, Senior Manager Koala Recovery, WWF-Australia.

Mr Herington said as soon as seedlings are planted in the region koalas are eating them.

“This behaviour shows that we need to scale up our work which we’re doing through Koala Friendly Carbon. We’re planting thousands of trees and hopefully the koalas can wait for them to grow a bit before consuming them,” Ms Pritchard said.

In the meantime, Mr Herington has some bad news for Claude.

“I’m sorry Claude but the party’s over. You are eating me out of house and home so I’ve started work on a fence to keep you out. It’s back to normal tucker for you,” Mr Herington said. 

For more info on WWF’s Koalas Forever program go to: https://wwf.org.au/what-we-do/help-regenerate-australia/koalas-forever/