Australia just listed the iconic koala as’ endangered ‘in several states

2022-05-25 0 By

Australia officially listed koalas as an “endangered species” across large swathes of its east coast on Friday, as the marsupials battle to survive the effects of bushfires, land clearing, drought and disease.Conservationists say koala populations across much of eastern Australia have plummeted over the past two decades and warn they are now heading for extinction.Environment Minister Sussan Ley said she had listed the koala population as “endangered” to provide a higher level of protection for them in New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and Queensland.Koalas, recognised globally as a symbol of Australia’s unique wildlife, were listed as “vulnerable” on the east coast a decade ago.”We are taking unprecedented action to protect koalas,” the minister said, highlighting the government’s recent pledge of 50 million Australian dollars (us $36 million) to protect and restore koala habitat.Environmentalists welcomed the koala’s new status but condemned Australia’s failure to protect the species so far.”Within a decade, koalas have gone from being unlisted to vulnerable to extinction.It’s a shockingly rapid decline, “said WWF-Australia conservation scientist Stuart Branch.”Today’s decision is welcome, but it will not stop koalas from going extinct unless it is accompanied by stronger laws and landowner incentives to protect their forest homes.”Conservationists say it is difficult to give accurate numbers of koalas in the affected eastern states.But estimates by the Scientific Committee on Threatened Species, an independent government advisory body, suggest koala numbers have fallen from 185,000 in 2001 to 92,000 in 2021.”Losing a national icon” Alexia Wellbelove of Humane Society International says koalas on the East Coast could be extinct by 2050 if no action is taken.”We can’t afford more cleanup,” she said.The Australian Conservation Foundation says its own research shows the federal government has approved the clearing of more than 25,000 hectares of koala habitat since the species was declared vulnerable a decade ago.Basha Stasak, the foundation’s nature campaign manager, said: “Since the species was deemed protected 10 years ago, Australia’s national environmental laws have been so ineffective that they have done little to stop the continued destruction of koala habitats in Queensland and New South Wales.””Koala extinction is not necessarily going to happen,” Stasak added.”We have to stop bulldozing their homes for mines, new housing estates, agricultural projects and industrial logging.”Due to land clearing, drought, disease, car crashes and dog attacks, Koalas in Australia were living on a “knife edge” even before the devastating “black summer” bushfires of 2019-20, said Josey Sharrad, international Wildlife Campaign manager.Animal welfare fund.”We shouldn’t let it get to the point where we could lose a national icon,” Mr. Sharad said.”Bushfires were the last straw.This must serve as a wake-up call for Australia and the government to act more quickly to protect vital habitats from development and land clearing, and to get serious about addressing the impacts of climate change.”