Koala killed by car on northern NSW highway an image photographer says ‘people had to see’
By Nicole Mills ABC News 17 Dec 2017
It’s hard to look at, but this photo captures the reality facing Australia’s native wildlife every day.
Photographer Harrison Warne, 21, took this photo of a koala killed by a car on the New England Highway, near Armidale, in northern New South Wales.
But it wasn’t the only native animal he saw dead on the road that morning.
“I was driving home to Merimbula from Townsville where I study zoology and ecology,” he said.
“Just after passing over the border into NSW there was a dead quoll on the road.
“Quolls are a threatened species and seeing one dead on the road like this was quite upsetting because they are such an elusive animal, an animal which many people get very excited about when seen in the wild, yet here was an individual killed by a vehicle — wasted.”
A few hundred kilometres down the road Mr Warne drove past the dead koala and decided to pull over.
He said after seeing two native animals killed by cars in such a short space of time he knew this was “something people had to see”.
“I wanted a provocative photo which made people stop and think about ways in which we can reduce the mortality of threatened species on roads, such as wildlife bridges and tunnels,” he said.
“Our threatened native animals are being killed on the road like this when they already face so many threats like habitat fragmentation and introduced species.
“I didn’t enjoy taking the photo, not one bit, but I knew that it was important that people see this, and the fact that the roadkill was a koala, an adored Australian icon, reinforced the message.”
Australian Koala Foundation chief executive Deborah Tabart said she had seen this happen many times before.
She said governments had to play a role in enhancing existing koala habitats but drivers should also be more careful.
“Where there’s trees there’s usually animals. My generation was taught at night time and dusk to slow down and I don’t think young ones learn that anymore,” she said.
“It is so hard to avoid hitting [koalas] and they are so fragile. They are so frail because they have to be, because they spend all their time in the top part of the trees and they can’t be too heavy.”
Mr Warne, who shared his photo through ABC Open, said he enjoyed taking wildlife photographs because it allowed him to celebrate the beauty — in this case the tragic beauty — of the natural world.
“With so many animals and ecosystems threatened by humans it’s important that nature is showcased, to remind us what we have to lose.”