Koala populations in Australia are on a rapid decline with an estimated loss of 30% in numbers since 2018, according to a new report.
The total population of koalas across Australia is now estimated to be between 32,065 to 57,920 – down from 45,745 to 82,170 in 2018 according to the report which was made by the Australian Koala Foundation (AFK).
Despite every state and territory seeing a drop in numbers, NSW has suffered the largest loss with an estimated 41% drop in the population.
The ACT and Queensland both saw a decline of 37% in their populations.
The horrific black summer bushfires in 2019-20, which killed up to 3 billion animals, is one of the major reasons for the reduction in numbers. WWF (formerly World Wildlife Fund) estimates 60,000 koalas were impacted by the bushfires alone.
But the fires aren’t the only reason.
AFK CEO Deborah Tabart said “We have witnessed a drastic decrease in inland populations because of drought, heatwaves, and lack of water for Koalas to drink.”
Land clearing is another reason why numbers are continuing to decline, with displaced kolas removed from their natural habitats often dying.
With most of their native habitat cleared or fragmented by roads, mining and property, the species are left vulnerable and exposed to being hit by cars and attacked by wild dog.
This increasingly common predicament will never work in the favour of the species, who are known for being slow and lazy at the best of times.
Koalas spend up to 22 hours a day sleeping. The rest of their time is spent eating & wandering around aimlessly searching for a mate. If they don’t find one, eventually they just give up & go back to sleep. pic.twitter.com/K51No3An3J
— MYTH AND FACT (@MythAndFact) September 17, 2021
Last year a parliamentary inquiry warned that if there wasn’t ‘urgent government intervention’ koalas would likely be extinct by 2050.
This isn’t the first time koalas have been in danger. They were nearly wiped out 100 years ago due to the fur trade, which saw them hunted and skinned in huge numbers. In 1927, Queensland reportedly allowed 10,000 licensed trappers to collect over 600,000 koala skins.
— Save the Koala (AKF) (@savethekoala) September 16, 2021
There are actions that can be adopted to prevent the further decline of our koalas.
Ms Talbart states, “Urgent action to stop land clearing in prime koala habitat is required if we are to save our beloved national animal from peril.“