Welp, we’ve gone and bloody done it, haven’t we. The Australian Koala Foundation (AKF) is pretty sure that koalas are “functionally extinct” in Australia, with population numbers feared to be dipping below the number needed to maintain the species’ existence.
As per Newsweek, the foundation sent out a press release this week saying that the AKF has been monitoring the health of the koala population in Australia since 2010. In the 128 federal electorates that koalas are known to populate, 41 of these areas have an identified koala population in them, and only five of those have a koala population above 5000.
It’s believed that there are only around 80,000 wild koalas left in Australia, which is a tiny percentage of the estimated 10 million koalas alive some 200 years ago.
Deborah Tabart, CEO of the Australian Koala Foundation, stressed in the press release that action needs to be taken immediately to ensure that we don’t lose our iconic koalas for good.
I am calling on the new Prime Minister after the May election to enact the Koala Protection Act (KPA) which has been written and ready to go since 2016. The plight of the Koala now falls on his shoulders.
The foundation has sent letters to both Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to plead that they address the dire situation that wild koalas are in, and for the government who takes out the election this month to bring in the Koala Protection Act – which the foundation based on the US‘ Bald Eagle Protection Act which found success in the US through politically-motivated direct action.
Koalas have also been crucial in the maintenance and preservation of Australia’s eucalyptus tree population for millions of years, with the sleepy angels working as part of the ecosystem by eating outer leaves (helping with regeneration, like a fuzzy little gardener) and their nutrient-rich poop helping to keep the ground fertile and healthy for new growth.