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Safe Koala Crossings – Living with Wildlife in Urban Areas

Wildlife Photography with marysejansenart

Nature in our Modern World Part 1

Safe Koala Crossings: Cling on Baby Koala!
Cling on Baby Koala!

Koala crossing the road!

I’m driving home and it’s dark. As always, I drive with an extra focus: not only on the road but also on the side of the road. I see something moving there. Thankfully, I have a habit of driving more slowly under these conditions and I am able to hit the breaks – just in time for a koala to cross the road! I watch the cute little creature reach the other side safely and climb up a tree, before I continue on, pondering on living with wildlife in urbanized areas.

A wake-up call

With our current human population it is a reality that we have encroached on wildlife habitat more and more. Especially since we are attracted to the same fertile grounds that lots of animals are attracted to. While there has been a tendency in humans to arrogate these areas to suit their own needs, many people have lost sight of the fact that we are a part of nature and that we can’t sustain ourselves without it.

Much of the wildlife became regarded as a nuisance or even a threat to our existence. Consequently people began to use pesticides and insecticides; they began to chop down trees because they dropped leaves in their pool, or attracted bats that pooped on their driveways; they began to put deterring spikes on street lights so that the Pelicans wouldn’t sit on there and defecate on their cars while passing underneath. And so there are many more examples…

Nature is giving us a strong wake-up call: the decline in biodiversity is alarming and it’s threatening not only many species of wildlife but also our very existence. We need nature to survive! I do apologize for bringing you this doom and gloom story as this is not my usual style, but it has a purpose so please read on.

Envisioning solutions for living in harmony with wildlife

The thing is, there is another way! I would like to invite you to imagine a place – even in a modern urban world – where we live in harmony with wildlife, with nature. As best as we can.

What would this look like for you? Please pause for a moment, close your eyes and try to envision an ideal version of your local (sub)urban environment where there is a place for wildlife and humans to co-exist in harmony.

I would love it if you could share your vision in the comments below! Whether you have a bigger vision or just sense some loose ideas, it would be great to learn about them!

We need these visions to ignite creativity and ideas for solutions. These give us hope and the motivation to take action. Every idea is valuable to share, even if it doesn’t work on it’s own it may trigger another idea in another person’s mind!


Acknowledgement: My blog is selected in TOP 20 Australian Wildlife Blogs on place 12 by Feedspot!


A need for safe koala crossings

Let’s go back to our example of the koala. The koala has been declared endangered in 2022 and there is strong support in the Australian community to save this iconic species that is so unique to this country. As much of their habitat – which is Eucalyptus forest – has been cleared, the remainder has become fragmented. People started envisioning how we could reconnect these patches of forest so that the koalas could move around between them, ensuring that they could reach their food trees, find mates in a larger gene pool and be able to do everything else they need to survive.

One of the main causes of death for koalas in urbanized areas is being hit by a car. We all know the typical yellow Australian warning signs that alert drivers to possible wildlife crossings. But they don’t do enough, so people have put their thinking hats on and have come up with some interesting solutions.

Learn more about koalas here.

Wildlife Crossing by Maryse Jansen
Wildlife Crossing with koala warning signs and rope bridge

Solutions for safe koala crossings

One idea was the wildlife bridge: a rope bridge that spans between trees, high above the road, developed to facilitate safe crossings for arboreal species. Wouldn’t it be great if that created a safe crossing for the koalas?

Yes, but unfortunately the koalas don’t use the rope bridges. They are used to walking on ground level to move between trees and apparently don’t feel safe on these constructions.

Nothing is lost though about this idea as it is a perfect solution for other arboreal mammals like possums, gliders and phascogales, who feel completely at home jumping and gliding from tree to tree and rarely hit the ground. Unless the distance between trees is too large, like when there is a road dividing the forest … It turns out that these species do actively use the rope bridges which means less fatalities amongst them. So these bridges are serving a wonderful purpose!

However, we needed another solution for the koalas. In the area where I live, fencing has been installed along the busiest roads that cut through koala habitat. On the forest side of the fence smooth panels have been installed to prevent the koalas from climbing out onto the road. If a koala does get caught out on the road, perhaps because a pedestrian didn’t close the gate properly, there are access points for it to be able to get back on the good side of the fence.

Koala Fence by Maryse Jansen
Koala Fence

Koalas are also inclined to use underpasses, as long as they don’t have to get their feet wet! And they will use another type of wildlife bridges, which are normal bridges with vegetation planted on them. You can see such a bridge by clicking this link and watching the video at the bottom of that blog post.

Of course there are still many roads that don’t have either of these koala friendly crossing solutions so always be aware of the yellow warning signs, slow down and keep an eye out for these beautiful creatures we share the earth with! And perhaps you are inspired to envision more solutions to help koalas cross the road safely!

Check out the video below to see what some of this koala infrastructure looks like.

If you are interested in purchasing a print of ‘Cling on Baby Koala!’ or would like to see what the image looks like on the various merchandise products, please head to my shop. Another way to help save the koala is to buy a print of one of my koala images as I will donate 50% of the proceeds to the Wildlife Warriors Koala Conservation Project! Visit my collection of koala images here.

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