As koalas struggle with habitat loss, they are now facing more attacks from cattle, horses and other livestock, wildlife experts say.
- Loss of habitat is forcing koalas to spend more time on ground.
- Livestock mistake koalas as threat and attack them.
- Dozens of koalas injured every year by livestock.
Koala joey Fraser lost his mother in a cow attack in northern New South Wales last year.
While his mother was killed, Fraser broke his leg and arm in the attack.
The joey was treated at the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital on Queensland’s Gold Coast and now lives with carer Susannah Keogh in Lismore, in northern NSW.
Ms Keogh said she thought he was not going to make it because he was so small.
Ms Keogh, who is also part of Friends of the Koala, said cow attacks on koalas were quite common around northern NSW, with eight killed in the last 15 months.
It is understood livestock mistake the koala as a threat.
“It is usually fatal for the koalas because as you can imagine the cow is significantly larger than a koala,” she said.
Currumbin Wildlife Hospital senior veterinarian Michael Pyne agreed that injuries from cows were common.
“Surprisingly it happens quite a bit — I’ve got no doubt there’s a lot of under-reporting,” he said.
He said disease was still the biggest threat for koalas, representing 60 per cent of hospital admissions last year.
Koalas spend more time on ground due to tree loss
Koala rescuer Clare Gover from Queensland’s Darling Downs region said she saw dozens of koalas injured by cattle and horses every year.
“The injuries are quite horrific — they get trampled and tossed, they get multiple fractures, internal bleeding and organ damage,” she said.
Ms Gover treated koala Harriet and baby Taylor, who were pounded by horses at a property, and successfully released back into the wild after months of rehabilitation.
She said koalas were having to spend more time on the ground as a result of tree loss and development.
World Wildlife Fund spokesman Dr Martin Taylor said livestock attacks were one more obstacle faced by koalas when their habitat was being bulldozed.
“This is just one example of what koalas face because their forest homes have been bulldozed and broken up — we have no idea of the scale of this,” he said.
Dr Taylor said cows probably confused koalas with a threat like a small dog, which would harm their calves.
Landholders are being urged to report any injuries or deaths.
(Font: ABC News)