Surfers stand up for koalas

Koalas are set to dine out on the success of one of the last major gatherings held on the Gold Coast before the Coronavirus pandemic forced the shutdown of the international events industry.

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary will be able to plant at least 1000 extra eucalyptus trees to help feed our struggling koala population after the organisers of the 6th Biennial Global Wave Conference raised $7000 for the sanctuary’s koala breeding habitat program.

An international gathering to advance the recognition of the value of waves and their protection around the world, the 2020 Global Wave Conference brought the best minds from the surfing, conservation and innovation communities to Southern Cross University’s Gold Coast campus in February.

A fundraiser at Palm Beach venue The Collective on the final night of the event saw conference organisers, the Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve and the Surfboard Warehouse, and international partners Save the Waves Coalition, Surfrider Foundation International, Surfers Against Sewage, and Wild Coast, raise $7000 for the award-winning wildlife sanctuary.

GCWSR patron and former world and masters surfing champion Wayne ‘Rabbit’ Bartholomew AM said “it was good to see the surfing community rally to support the city’s most famous wildlife park continue its great work”.

“The sanctuary was well known and loved among generations of both local and visiting surfers. My fondest memories of growing up on the Gold Coast were visiting the famous Currumbin Bird Sanctuary during school holidays,” he said.

“Later on, as a professional surfer it became a location shoot, with me playing with the kangaroos during the filming of Bill Delaney’s epic 1976 surf movie Free Ride.”

In 2008, 27 koalas were admitted to the sanctuary’s Currumbin Wildlife Hospital. Sadly, by 2019 the number had sky-rocketed to almost 600. The hospital now treats a total of more than 12,000 animals each year, making it the busiest native wildlife hospital in Australia and possibly the world.

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary general manager Michael Kelly said the National Trust property was closely aligned with the Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve through both its physical connection and through the organisations’ similar missions around the protection of key environmental, cultural and community attributes.

Kelly said the sanctuary was extremely grateful for the conference’s “generous and timely contribution”.
“As a Not-for-Profit charity organisation, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary values this substantial donation from the organisers of this year’s Global Wave Conference, with the funds being used to purchase an additional 1000 eucalyptus tree seedlings and associated supplies for our offsite koala fodder plantations,” he said.

“The sanctuary’s plantations are a vital operation that help to feed not only our koala breeding program at the sanctuary, but also support the almost 600 koalas which come through our Wildlife Hospital every year. By ensuring that we have quality and sustainable koala fodder resources available, it assists in safeguarding the ongoing health, prosperity and longevity of koalas and for the generations to come.”

World longboard champion and Surfboard Warehouse spokesman Rachael Tilly said supporting the sanctuary’s koala rehabilitation program was “a no-brainer”.
“Our community means everything to us at The Surfboard Warehouse,” she said.
“Being a part of the Global Wave Conference at the beginning of 2020 helped to inspire us to get more involved and do our part, not only as a company, but as a team of individuals who all love to take advantage of what our Australian environment has to offer us on a daily basis.”

“With the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary in our backyard, it was a no brainer to partner with the World Surfing Reserve and present this donation to the koala fund.”
“We look forward to seeing how Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary continues to make its positive impact for change.”

Area councillor Gail O’Neill (Division 14) welcomed the surfing community’s ‘foresight’ in raising both funds and awareness for the sanctuary’s koala conservation efforts.
“It’s fantastic to see how ocean conservation can be tied in with conservation of wildlife,” she said.
“Division 14 is very happy to support the GCWSR and Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and the great work they do for our community.”

For further information on Global Wave Conference 2020 visit here.

PHOTO CREDIT:  Larisa Cevallos -Sweet Ocean

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