Koalas in eastern Australia could become extinct by 2050 due to habitat destruction and increasing frequency of natural disasters, according to an official report published on the 30 June. The report also calls for stronger environmental protection.
According to ecologist Oisin Sweeney, there are between 15,000 and 20,000 koalas living in the wild in The eastern state of New South Wales. A report by a local council committee said the number of koalas had been made more difficult by severe fires in New South Wales last summer.
“Prior to the fire, rangers had informed us that the koalas they cared for were dehydrated and malnourished due to drought, heat waves and water shortages,” council chair Kate Felman told reporters.
The parliamentary report said fires in Australia last summer had killed at least 5,000 koalas, stressing that “the continued destruction of their habitat for agriculture, development, mining or forestry in recent decades has severely affected the vast majority of koala populations”.
In the years leading up to the forest fires, koalas were already facing severe dry seasons and habitat fragmentation due to human development, according to the documents. In addition to these threats are climate change, road traffic accidents, attacks by other wildlife and domestic animals, and diseases caused by chlamydia infection.
As soon as the 42-point report was published, WWF Australia called on the government to take immediate action to revise NSW’s land reclamation and tree felling laws.