It’s a sad day in “cutest animals in the world” news. Koala numbers have dropped by a third in New South Wales and by 40% in Queensland over the past 20 years, putting them on the threatened species list.
According to Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke, koalas are not yet on a national endangered or threatened species list because South Australia and Victoria are still well populated, while numbers are taking a massive hit in Queensland and New South Wales.
Australian Koala Foundation CEO Deborah Tabart says there is not nearly enough protection, and the government has severely underestimated the danger koalas face as a result of climate change and urban expansion.
The federal government claims there are 200,000 koalas in the wild, but the organization is estimating there are less than 100,000. They might want to figure that out. Who wouldn’t want to have the job as “koala counter?” I’d do it.
There are several reasons why koalas could be on the decline, their limited diet of eucalyptus being one of the leading possibilities. Not only are forests of eucalyptus plowed through for urban development, but increased CO2 emissions have begun to deplete the nutritional value of the plant.
Fatal attacks by domestic dogs is another reason, as more and more koalas are found in residential gardens during excessively hot summers.
There’s no doubt that koalas are an iconic species, and in order to keep their populations thriving, a prompt, well-enforced plan seems to be needed to get them off the threatened species list.