In three years, Australia lost 30% of its koala population due to wildfires and drought, according to a report.
In a three-year period beginning in 2018, Australia lost 30% of its koala population, prompting conservationists to ask for the species to be listed as endangered.
According to a survey released Monday by the Australian Koala Foundation, the koala population in 2021 will be between 32,065 and 57,920, a significant decrease from 2018, when the number was anticipated to be between 45,745 and 82,170.
According to the research, the loss is partially due to the 2019 and 2020 bushfires.
The koala population was decimated by the flames, which killed around 60,000 of the marsupials. According to a 2020 assessment by the World Wildlife Fund, the flames resulted in widespread death, injury, habitat destruction, limited food supply, and increased predation risk.
Koalas were particularly vulnerable to the fires due to their slow movement and diet of oil-rich eucalyptus trees. Many of them became lost among the fire-charred trees, unable to move quickly enough to escape.
The fires, though, aren’t the main reason for the drop. Drought, heat extremes, and a scarcity of water for koalas have all played a role. In the report, Deborah Tabart, the AKF’s chair, characterized some parts of Australia as looking “like the moon,” with “dead and decaying trees everywhere.”
Land clearing in koala habitats is also cited as a key hazard in the report.
“Over the last few years, we have seen massive land clearing for farming, housing development, and mining, particularly across NSW and South East Queensland,” according to the research. “We know that offsets don’t work and that relocated koalas perish.”
The population fall was most striking in New South Wales, a southeastern state that is home to Sydney, with a 41 percent drop.
According to the survey, some Australian regions have as few as five to ten koalas left, and just one electorate has more than 5,000.
According to the research, there were no rising trends in Australia. In 47 electorates, the koala is completely gone.
The report recommended that the government take “immediate action” to cease land clearing in koala habitats and enact a Koala Protection Act.
The Australian government requested public input on a national recovery plan for areas of the country in June. This is a condensed version of the information.