Australia’s koalas have now been officially classified as ‘endangered’ after widespread bushfires, drought and land clearing destroyed much of their eucalyptus-rich habitat.
KOALA IN AUSTRALIA
- According to fossil records, Koala species have inhabited parts of Australia for at least 25 million years, a WWF report states.
- At present only one species remains — the Phascolarctos cinereus.
- Found in the wild in the southeast and eastern sides of Australia — in coastal Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria.
DIET – Due to the low nutritional value of these leaves, koalas tend to sleep for extended periods, often up to 18 hours a day, to conserve energy.
PRESENT POPULATION –
Number of Koalas in NSW declined by between 33 per cent and 61 per cent since 2001
In Queensland the Koala population decreased by at least half during the same period
REASONS FOR LOSS OF POPULATION
- Classified as “vulnerable” only in 2012
- Habitat loss – Agriculture and the construction of urban settlements
- During the catastrophic 2019 bushfires in Australia, now known as the ‘Black Summer’, an estimated 60,000 koalas were impacted, with vast swathes of their habitat being blackened and rendered unliveable. More than 12 million acres of land were destroyed across New South Wales alone
- Spread of chlamydia, a sexually transmitted disease known to cause blindness and cysts in the koalas reproductive tract.
WHAT CHANGES WILL IT MAKE
- The Endangered status of the koala means they and their forest homes should be provided with greater protection under Australia’s national environmental law.
- Not only will this protect the iconic animal, but many other species living alongside them