After New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced her commitment to the Koala Habitat Protection SEPP, introduced in March to help restore the state’s koala numbers, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has reached out to suggest a simple yet powerful way she can help the endangered animals: taking PETA’s 30-day vegan pledge.
In its letter, the group points out that logging, including for animal agriculture, poses a threat to koalas and other native species. Felling trees to make room for grazing and livestock crops, combined with drought, ever-hotter summers and devastating bushfires, is exacerbating koala population decline, as some experts warn of the extinction of the species by 2050.
While the state Legislative Council’s study on koala populations and habitat found that the ” fragmentation and loss of habitat poses the most serious threat to koala populations [in New South Wales]”, nearly half of the country’s total land mass is dedicated to grazing farmed animals on native vegetation. Northwest New South Wales has been named a deforestation hotspot owing to its high land-clearing rates.
“Such destruction is unconscionable: animal agriculture is one of the leading causes of land clearing and the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change – an exacerbating factor in bushfires – and all of these factors are killing koalas,” writes Senior Outreach and Partnerships Manager Emily Rice. “Meanwhile, healthy and delicious plant-based foods require less land and water to produce than animal-derived ones. The events of 2020 have proven you don’t back down from a challenge …. We hope you’ll fulfil your commitment to koalas by taking us up on [this one].”
PETA – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat” – opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. The group notes that over 500 million animals are raised and slaughtered for food in Australia each year, an extremely resource-intensive practice that uses vast amounts of land, water, and crops and subjects gentle, sensitive animals to systemic abuse and painful, terrifying deaths.