Koalas win by one
‘Save our Koalas’ to receive $176 913 from Pick My Project
Pure elation was the natural emotion felt by Kylee Donkers after hearing the ‘Save our Koalas’ project had received Pick My Project funding.
Ms Donkers and her band of loyal volunteers at Koona Wonga Wildlife Rescue have been out in force for months trying to bring the project to fruition through raising awareness of a plague which has seen the koala population struck down by scabies.
Hard work paid off, with 219 votes enough to see the project the only one selected within Moira Shire.
Last Monday, the good news filtered through to Mrs Donkers, but it was not delivered in the way it was intended.
‘‘One of our volunteers, Louise Greenwood, actually put in the funding submission on our behalf and she got an email saying we were successful but she wasn’t going to tell me because she wanted to come out to the shelter after work and shower me with champagne and break the good news,’’ Mrs Donkers said.
‘‘But then I had Matt Dowling from ABC radio ring me to see whether I’d go on the breakfast show that morning and talk about Pick My Project.
‘‘I didn’t know what was going on and then he turned around and said, ‘oh, you don’t know yet, do you’ — so yes, it came as a quite a shock,’’ she said.
Mrs Donkers was thankful for the leg work done by Ms Greenwood.
‘‘She has done the majority of the work. She’s been down at Woollies every day handing out flyers for people to vote for us, her family have done a power of work to make sure we were successful,’’ she said.
She also said the project would never have been successful if it was not for the community’s care and support.
‘‘We have to thank the community massively because we only got in by one vote, it was very lucky.’’
The project will receive $176 913 to deliver education around sick koalas as well as the means to hopefully rehabilitate them in the future.
Koona Wonga can now buy a display information trailer, which will be taken to markets and schools to help educate the community on the dangers being faced by koalas.
‘‘The biggest thing it is actually going to fund is the koala counts and a big koala festival which we’re hoping to run in town,’’ Mrs Donkers said.
‘‘If it all goes to plan, we will be able to raise enough money at that festival to get researchers involved.’’
❝We have to thank the community massively because we only got in by one vote, it was very lucky.❞ — Kylee Donkers
Money will also go to funding a rescue trailer, allowing Koona Wonga staff to go out and rescue koalas.
It will also help the shelter build a quarantine and treatment enclosure as treating the koalas so far has proved virtually impossible because scabies is so contagious and is a risk to other animals and humans.
Mrs Donkers said $30 000 still needed to be raised to help researchers to come to the area and study how scabies is affecting the koala population.
‘‘We are working really closely with institutions such as Melbourne University, Sydney University and Taronga Zoo’s infectious disease department, it’s not just us that is involved in the project,’’ she said.
Mrs Donkers said the problem had the potential to spread Australia-wide if not managed properly.
‘‘It’s not just isolated to this area, they’re having trouble with scabies down in Gippsland, Warrnambool, South Australia and NSW,’’ she said.
‘‘With this funding behind us, hopefully we can be bigger and better and raise those funds for researchers a little bit quicker.’’
Mrs Donkers was unsure when and how the money would be distributed.
Sealed with a kiss: KoonaWonga Wildlife Rescue’s Save our Koalas funding application was successful in Pick My Project. Pictured is Dutch Thunder Wildlife Shelter owner Kylee Donkers.