80,000 left on the continent: Koalas are ‘functionally extinct’ in Australia

"Formerly thought to be common and widespread, koalas are now vulnerable to extinction across much of its northern range."

Image Credit: FunnyPetMedia/YouTube

The Australian Koala Foundation said the koala species is at a critical point. Considered “functionally extinct,” the species’ population has decreased to “no more than 80,000” making it no longer possible to produce the next generation. This will most likely lead to the koala’s extinction.

Koalas, which are native to the eastern side of Australia, are at the heart of Australian culture, but Australia’s most recognizable symbol, common and widespread, now faces extinction.

“Functionally extinct” is when a species population has declined so significantly that it no longer plays a part in the current ecosystem therefore, no longer to reproduce to add to the population.

“The AKF thinks there are no more than 80,000 Koalas in Australia. This is approximately 1% of the 8 million Koalas that were shot for fur and sent to London between 1890 and 1927,” Deborah Tabart, Australian Koala Foundation (AKF) chairman, said.

In a decade, the koala populations have gone extinct in 41 of Australia’s 128 electorates for nearly a decade, based on AKF monitoring.

While koalas were previously hunted for their fur from 1919 to 1924 before being protected by law, current threats to the species include domestic dogs and disease as well as human development of land and climate change.

While koalas are currently protected under Australia law and a National Recovery Plan was put in place in 2012, it has been neglected over the past six years.

“I know the Australian public are concerned for the safety of Koalas and are tired of seeing dead Koalas on our roads. It is time for the Government to respect the Koala and protect its habitat,” Tabart said.

Koalas are not vulnerable to extinction.


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