Australia Lists The Koala As An Endangered Species

The Australian government has declared the koala to be an endangered species, following years of population decimation created by man-made and natural disasters.

What Happened: The BBC reported the listing was for Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. Ten years ago, the species was listed as “vulnerable” in those states and territory. But since then, fires, disease, drought and land clearing have driven down the number of koalas living in the wild.

Animal conservation experts estimate that as few as 50,000 koalas remain in the wild. Last year, a research study warned that koalas could be extinct in New South Wales by 2050 unless action was taken to reverse the threats to the marsupial’s existence. An estimated 5,000 koalas are believed to have been killed in the 2019-2020 Black Summer bushfires in New South Wales, which destroyed nearly one-quarter of the koala habitats for the state.

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What Happens Next: Australia’s Environment Minister Sussan Ley said the upgrade from “vulnerable” to “endangered” was important for preserving the koala population.

But Stuart Blanch, a conservation scientist with WWF-Australia, warned that a listing upgrade was meaningless without urgent efforts to stop the species’ decline.

“Koalas have gone from no-listing to vulnerable to endangered within a decade,” he said. “That is a shockingly fast decline. Today's decision is welcome, but it won't stop koalas from sliding towards extinction unless it's accompanied by stronger laws and landholder incentives to protect their forest homes.”

Photo: Annick Vanblaere/Pixabay.

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