29 Sept 2023


He’s the leaf thief whose antics went viral, inspiring memes and stories around the world.

In multiple raids during July, Claude the koala ate 4,050 koala food tree seedlings at Eastern Forest Nursery near Lismore in the New South Wales Northern Rivers region.

Felix Mobile saw the stories and is covering the cost of Claude’s raids. So nursery owner Humphrey Herington is donating the surviving seedlings – Claude’s lunch leftovers – to the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia to create more koala habitat.

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

And the desperate need for more habitat was highlighted when Tanya Pritchard, Senior Manager Koala Recovery, WWF-Australia, visited the nursery in South Gundurimba to inspect Claude’s lunch leftovers.

In the small patch of trees surrounding the nursery, there were at least eight koalas including three mums with joeys. It’s not normal for that many koalas to be crammed into a small area. Most of the eucalypts they were living in have been heavily grazed.

“It’s really concerning that koalas like Claude are having to break in to nurseries to find tucker to eat. This is a koala hot spot but there’s so little habitat. We really need to be planting more trees for these hungry koalas,” Ms Pritchard said.

Mr Herington said local farmers are reporting that koalas are stripping trees.

 “One guy has about a kilometre of river bank and there are at least 40 koalas in that section of river just defoliating 10-year-old trees. They have nowhere else to go so it’s really important we start establishing corridors to link isolated pockets of koalas together,” Mr Herington said.

“There’s so much habitat loss around here that koalas are sticking to the areas where there are just a few trees. Bruxner Highway, is a koala kill hot spot, because you’ve got koala trees along the highway and trucks and cars fly past. So just slow down, especially between dusk and dawn,” said Linda Sparrow, Bangalow Koalas President.

Last year WWF funded Bangalow Koalas to plant more than 10,000 trees at a farm down the road from Eastern Forest Nursery.

WWF-Australia is now talking to the landholder directly opposite the nursery about planting Claude’s lunch leftovers on his property.

But it costs about $10 per tree to prepare the soil, plant the trees, and then water and maintain them for two to three years until they’re established.

So WWF is fundraising to cover those costs. Find out more at: https://shop.wwf.org.au/products/claudes-lunch-leftovers