Japan shows yen for koalas

HAVING become some of the biggest takeover merchants in property, hotels, tourist resorts, cattle farms and golf courses, the Japanese are now moving in on one of Australia's last unsullied national symbols: the koala bear.

The Lotte corporation, one of Japan's biggest biscuit-makers, this week put its money where its merchandise is and sent a cheque for 100,000 Australian dollars ( pounds 50,000) to the Australian Koala Foundation, a non-profit-making conservation group devoted to saving koala bears from extinction. It was the biggest donation the foundation has received, and at least two- thirds more than any single contribution from an Australian company or government.

Koalas have served Lotte well for a decade. That is how long it has been making koala- shaped, chocolate biscuits which produce an income of 57bn yen ( pounds 367m) a year. Over the same period, Australia has had an explosion of Japanese tourists, among whom one of the most popular activities is now a 'Save the Koala Tour'.

This involves each visitor planting at least one eucalyptus tree to regenerate koalas' natural habitats. Since the bush fires which devastated New South Wales in January, and killed up to 5,000 koalas, more money for koalas' welfare has poured in from Japan than anywhere else. Another Japanese corporation is reported to be ready to match Lotte's Adollars 100,000 soon.

All of which has led Deborah Tabart, executive director of the Australian Koala Foundation, to conclude sombrely that the Japanese have learned the value of koalas more than Australians have. The foundation recently sought donations from about 400 Australian companies which use koalas in their logos and products. The response rate was 0.03 per cent. 'The Japanese have developed a great bond with koalas because they have so little contact with animals,' Ms Tabart said. 'They buy plastic birds to sing to them and live in cities where nature seems to have disappeared.'

Ms Tabart and her colleagues have earmarked the Japanese money for a project using satellite technology to produce urgently Australia's first national map of remaining koala habitats.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: SAGE Bookkeeper & PA to Directors

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with excess, cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies