There are few things that drive home the impact of habitat destruction on the world's wildlife quite like a photograph of a lone victim surrounded by the remains of its razed home.

This poignant image was posted online by animal rescue group Wildcare Australia after its team found the koala wandering around a recently cleared development site on the northern end of the Gold Coast in Queensland. 

Habitat loss due to development is a massive concern all across the globe, and Australia's iconic marsupials are just one of many animals to feel the effects. “I think a lot of people see cleared areas and they realise in the back of their minds it was once habitat for wildlife, but until you see a photo like that, you don't realise that a koala, which is supposed to be an iconic Australian species, has no home left,” Wildcare Australia's Karen Scott told the Brisbane Times. “And its not just koalas, every species that lived there, possums, gliders, carpet pythons, all of those animals have either been killed or lost their homes." 

Lost Koala1 2015 10 16
Since European settlement, approximately 80% of Koala habitat has been decimated. Image: Wildcare Australia Inc./Facebook
Lost Koala3 2015 10 16
The koala has since been admitted to a wildlife hospital to recover from its ordeal. Image: Wildcare Australia Inc./Facebook

While rules do exist to help protect Queensland's flora and fauna on development sites  (including the stipulation that developers employ koala "spotters" during the clearing process), they don’t address all of the issues. For example, koalas are actually habitual animals, meaning they return to locations they’ve spent time in before. "They know where their favourite trees are, so when she gets there, there's nothing,” explains Scott.  

There’s also the issue of cars: as patches of the koalas' eucalyptus habitat get smaller and more fragmented, the animals are more likely to cross through developments, and inevitably, roads. Being hit by cars is their second biggest threat.

Wildcare's most recent rescue, who's since been nicknamed Ash, is actually one of the lucky ones to survive the clearing process. She's had a full medical exam and is currently being cared for at a wildlife hospital. She'll be be released back into wild as soon as she’s ready and a suitable [and safer] home is found. 

Top header image: Justin Brown, Flickr