The marsupials are now one step closer to extinction due to bushfires, drought and the clearing of land.
To ensure that the rapidly declining populations of koalas are protected by government agencies, the Australian authorities listed the species as endangered on Friday in three Australian states.
Sussan Léy, Australian Environment Minister announced that all koalas in Queensland, New South Wales and Australia Capital Territory have been designated endangered species by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999). This designation recognizes that these animals face extinction if they do not receive additional protection.
“We are taking unprecedented action to protect the koala, working with scientists, medical researchers, veterinarians, communities, states, local governments and traditional owners,”Minister said that the plan for four years of recovery will cost AU$50m (US$35.6m) and will be applied in each state to preserve and protect koalas.
The WWF-Australia and International Fund for Animal Welfare, (IFAW) as well as the Humane Society International (HSI), thanked the minister for their appreciation. “grim, but important decision,”While criticizing government failure to protect the Koalas.
IFAW Wildlife Campaign Manager Josey Sharrad called the marsupials an international and national icon, and said they were in danger before the ‘Black Summer’ of 2019-20 due to severe droughts, loss of habitat to land-clearing, diseases, dog attacks, and roadkills.
“The bushfires were the final straw. This must be a wake-up call to Australia and the government to move much faster to protect critical habitat from development and land-clearing and seriously address the impacts of climate change,”She stated.
Stuart Blanch from WWF Australia conservation scientist, called on the state and government to urgently double the number of Koalas before 2050.
“Koalas have gone from no-listing to vulnerable to endangered within a decade. It is shocking to see how fast this decline has occurred. 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,”He said that the koala population had been reduced by half in the past 20 years due to Queensland and New South Wales governments failing to preserve their natural environment.
The decision to list koalas as an endangered species comes just 10 years after the marsupials were listed as a ‘vulnerable species’ in May 2012. The government has officially listed 25,000 hectares as their habitat. Since then the koala population has been in constant danger.
It is projected that by 2032, when Queensland’s capital, Brisbane will host the Olympic games, the koala population in the state will drop below 8,000, according to the WWF.
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