At least 40 koalas have been found dead and more injured after a sheep farmer in Victoria bulldozed a blue gum plantation to turn the land into pasture on which to graze animals.
As reported by The Age, documents completed by forestry contractors indicated that there were 72 koalas on the property when the area was logged in November. In the wake of Australia’s bushfires, more animals moved onto the property looking for food among the fallen trees. More than 100 koalas are believed to have been present when the bulldozers moved in last week to clear the ground.
Keith Troeth, who manages the property, told media that this is “not the big hoo-ha it’s been made out to be”.
“We made every effort to do it professionally, we made every effort to minimise any fatality,” he said.
But what Troeth doesn’t seem to understand is that even one koala death is one too many.
As fires continue to claim bushland, we should be planting trees to renew the precious lost habitats of our native animals, not ripping them down to make way for other animals to graze so we can eventually run a blade across their throats, eat their flesh, and wear their skins.
Land-clearing is often blamed on urban development, but animal agriculture is actually the major culprit.
Australia is in the top 10 of nations responsible for the most deforestation. For example, a 2017 government report detailing land-cover change in Queensland revealed that 395,000 hectares of bushland – home to countless animals and essential for our nation’s biodiversity – were cleared in just one year. According to the Statewide Landcover and Trees Study, the majority of vegetation clearing in recent years has been for conversion for grazing purposes (over 90% of total clearing).
Australia already has some of the highest extinction rates on the planet. Now, in the wake of catastrophic bushfires which have claimed the lives of so many more animals, it’s imperative that we put what’s ethical before what’s profitable.