Australia Lists Koalas As Endangered Species After Dramatic Decline In Numbers

Hannah Smith

| Last updated 

Australia Lists Koalas As Endangered Species After Dramatic Decline In Numbers

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Koalas have been officially declared an endangered species in parts of Australia following a 'shockingly fast decline' in the population of the animals in the wild.

The Australian federal government confirmed the new categorisation would apply to Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.

Over the past decade a number of factors have contributed to dramatic falls in the koala population on Australia's east coast, including bushfires, land clearing, drought, disease and other risks and threats.

Koalas (Alamy)
Koalas (Alamy)

The upgraded threat level for koalas comes just 10 years after they were first declared a 'vulnerable' species by the federal government in 2012 – a pace animal campaigners say shows just how urgent the situation was becoming.

Confirming the change, Environment Minister Sussan Ley said the 'listing adds priority when it comes to the conservation of the koala'.

The federal government will now establish a recovery plan to try and help increase the population of koalas, while land development applications are set to be assessed for their potential impact on the species.

However, despite the new measures announced today, February 11, experts have urged the government to take stronger action in favour of species conservation efforts.

'Koalas have gone from no-listing to vulnerable to endangered within a decade. That is a shockingly fast decline,' said WWF conservation scientist Stuart Blanch, per BBC News.

'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.'

The decision comes after a report last year estimated the 'Black Summer' bushfires that made international headlines during December and January 2019-20 had killed 5,000 koalas and affected 24% of their habitats in New South Wales alone.

Koala (Alamy)
Koala (Alamy)

Although the new endangered listing only applies to the east coast, koala numbers are on the decline nationally. Estimates by koala conservation groups suggest there may now be as few as 50,000 koalas left in the wild, with their numbers thought to have declined by almost two-thirds over the past 20 years.

Scientists have blamed the growing impact of climate change on some of the factors affecting koala populations, including increased risk of bushfires and drought, and changes to the quality of eucalyptus trees, on which koalas mainly rely for food and shelter.

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]

Topics: News, Animals, Australia, World News

Hannah Smith
More like this

Chosen for YouChosen for You

Film & TV

Rachel Zegler blasts 'senselessly mean' critics of Shazam! Fury of the Gods

10 minutes ago

Most Read StoriesMost Read

Billionaire Rupert Murdoch, 92, is engaged again just one year after divorce

21 hours ago