ENDANGERED: Fears continue to grow over the survival of the Koala population. Photo by Lisa Maree Williams
ENDANGERED: Fears continue to grow over the survival of the Koala population. Photo by Lisa Maree Williams

Koala populations plummet closer to wipeout levels

AS THE koala population continues to decline, experts fear for the future of the Australian icon.

Granite Belt Wildlife Carers president Betty Balch said it was obvious koala populations were plummeting, with the koala classed as vulnerable to extinction – one classification above endangered.

She said at this rate, it was almost certain the Koala would eventually be wiped out.

“The bushfires annihilated thousands,” Mrs Balch said.

“How caring the government is will depend on the survival of these animals.”

Mrs Balch said she demanded more respect for their habitat.

“That would help. It would be a step in the right direction, I think.

“If they continue to chop down their homes then we can expect to not have these animals around for very much longer.”

COUNTDOWN TO EXTINCTION: Granite Belt Wildlife president Betty Balch with a baby koala.
COUNTDOWN TO EXTINCTION: Granite Belt Wildlife president Betty Balch with a baby koala.

National Geographic found that reports indicate between 350 and one thousand Koala’s were found dead in New South Wales alone during the 2019-20 devastating bushfire season.

But experts say we are not looking at the death of the species – yet.

Professor of wildlife conservation at the University of Tasmania Chris Johnson said the extinction of Koala’s wasn’t going to happen overnight.

“Koala populations will continue to decline because of lots of interacting reasons,” he said.

“But we’re not at the point where one event could take them out.”

It’s not just the devastating impacts of bushfires that is taking a toll on the already venerable species, with several other factors playing part too.

“In Queensland at least, fire is not the critical threatening process,” Koala ecologist Dr Rolf Schlagloth said.

“It is drought and habitat destruction.”

When it comes to saving these creatures, Dr Schlagloth said there is only one way.

“We need to investigate and enrich our knowledge of how human behaviour affects these populations,” he said.

“When it comes down to it, human behaviour is at the core of all the management – the responsibility lies firmly on all of us.”

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