Saturday, 1 September 2012

Law of the Koala


Wivenhoe Dam, Queensland, Australia

March 2002

These are old, but remain as my favourite wild koala photos. Both are about ten years old (2002-03) and were taken with my Pentax Z-1 and Pentax SMC ED 400mm f5.6 AF lens. The top one using slide, and the lower, print film.
September is “Save the Koala Month” and you can help and learn more about Koalas at the Australian Koala Foundation or click on the Koala button on the right side of this page.

Currently the Australian Koala Foundation is trying to get a stronger law created to protect Koalas and their habitat.

In Japan, a variety of species including Steller’s Sea-eagle (page header), White-tailed Sea-eagles (see TAGS on this blog) and Crested Ibis (Toki - also see TAGS on this blog) are legally designated as “National Treasures”.

Both eagles are protected by a law called “Tennen kinenbutsu” which translated to English, means “Natural Monument” (tennen-natural and kinenbutsu-monument). The Crested Ibis is even more special and is designated as Tokubetsu tennen kinenbutsu, “Special Natural Monument”.

Some “kinenbutsu” laws include habitat as well as species, such as “Whooper Swans on Kominato beach and their wintering place", in Aomori Prefecture.

These laws are under the “Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties” provided by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science & Technology, (MEXT).

I think these are much more powerful laws than simply “protected as a threatened species”. These Japanese laws recognise the subjects for their cultural importance as well as the fact that they are threatened or endangered species.

Is the concept “protected as a threatened species” really a protective and impassioned law? We seem to get lost in the thought of the term ‘species’ as the world is suffering declines all over.  

Is the Koala merely a “species” as an identifying factor to the Australian persona?

The koala is more than a medium sized, grey-coloured, tree-dwelling mammal. It is as Australian as, well, a Koala, isn’t it? Surely, we jump up and down and urge northern folk to come on down and nurse a Koala. 

If the Koala isn’t a “national treasure” then, I believe we have none. 

I guess such laws of protection however; depend on the will of Australians and our government.  

What is our will?

Let’s be brave. Let’s protect koalas and their habitat with all our hearts.

If we are not brave, we are lost.

AND: Don’t forget the Bilby! The second Sunday of September is Save the Bilby Day. To find out more click on: Save the Bilby Fund

We need to make more powerful laws to stubbornly protect our own “Natural Monuments”.

Youth Koala

St Stephen's Primary School

Pittsworth, Queensland, Australia

March, 2003

On August 28, 2012, the Ministry of the Environment in Japan declared the Japanese River Otter as an extinct species. It was also protected as “Tokubetsu tennen kinnenbutsu” but hasn’t been seen since 1979.


Thank you to Mr Honma and Brian Southwick for helping me to understand and verify the above mentioned Japanese laws.

You can also read more about the Monuments of Japan at this Wikipedia page.

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