Koalas are going extinct with as few as 30,000 left in the Australian wild when the country was once home to EIGHT MILLION
- New data shows wild koala numbers have plunged by 30 per cent in three years
- The Australian Koala Foundation monitors the marsupials’ populations
- Land clearing, bushfires, dogs and disease are among threats to koalas
- Foundation wants a ‘Koala Protection Act’ law to protect the native marsupial
Scientists have issued a dramatic warning koalas could become extinct with just 30,000 left in the wild.
New figures from the Australian Koala Foundation – which has been monitoring koala numbers for about a decade – reveal populations have plunged by 30 per cent in just three years.
The most recent population estimate is that the country is home to between 32,000 and 58,000 koalas, down from between 46,000 and 82,000 in 2018.
That’s just a fraction of the eight million koalas in Australia when European settlement began.
Adelaide wildlife rescuer Simon Adamczyk is seen with koala rescued at a burning forest near near Cape Borda on Kangaroo Island (pictured) southwest of Adelaide on January 7, 2020
The furry marsupial’s numbers have plunged in every federal electorate but most noticeably in those in Queensland where just 6,500 could be left in the entire state.
‘There used to be five electorates with more than 5000 animals and now there’s only two and it’s shocking that it’s happened in just three years,’ the non-profit’s chair Deborah Tabart told news.com.au.
The animals are found in the southeast part of Australia from mid-north Queensland through NSW, Victoria and to South Australia.
The data shows the animals are now extinct in the Riverina electorate – directly in the centre of the koalas habitat, while South Australia is estimated to have under a thousand of the animals.
The Australian Koala Foundation said numbers of the marsupials in the Australian wild have plunged by 30 per cent in just three years
The numbers show the koala is now extinct in 47 electorates and only one, in the South Australian electorate of Mayo, has more than 5000 koalas.
Flinders University’s Professor of ecology Corey Bradshaw said the situation for the species is dire.
‘When they go extinct is up for debate, but whether they will go extinct is not really up for debate anymore.’ Professor Bradshaw said.
‘Habitats have been cleared… fragmented by roads and development. [There’s] genetic problems and diseases… dogs and cars. Add bushfires, and there’s not a lot of long term hope for that species in particular,’ he said.
Land clearing and bushfires are widespread threats to the marsupials’ habitat (pictured: a bushfire rips the the Australian landscape in February 2021)
Currently the animals are listed as ‘vulnerable’ under the Australian Government’s Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act in Queensland and NSW.
The Australian Koala Foundation wants Victoria and South Australia included, the listing upgraded to ‘critically endangered’ and separate legislation to protect the Australian icon.
‘We need a Koala Protection Act now,’ Ms Tabart said.
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