In recent years, Australia has experienced devastating brushfires — and that devastation has been especially bad when it comes to koalas. At one point, the species was described as “functionally extinct,” and an effort to re-introduce koalas into their historical habitats in early 2020.
That wasn’t the end of their troubles, unfortunately. A new article at Earther notes that koalas have been added to the endangered species list in two Australian states: New South Wales and Queensland, as well as the Australian Capital Territory.
According to Sussan Ley, Australia’s Environmental Minister, the placement of koalas on these lists is the first step in a series meant to give the species a better future. The next steps will involve coming up with more concrete preservation ideas. Koalas’ endangered status will also have an effect on building plans in the regions in question, as a potential building or development will need to take its potential effect on koalas into account.
The article cites a number of alarming statistics that illustrate the extent to which koalas have been adversely affected by the last few years — including a 41% population drop in New South Wales in the last four years. Drought and fires aren’t the only issues that affect koalas; there’s also a massive outbreak of chlamydia taking place among the nation’s koalas. Last year, Australia began exploring a program to vaccinate koalas against the disease.
It’s a difficult time to be a koala right now. Perhaps this new effort from the government will help secure them a better future.
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