Koalas are among the main symbols of Australia. Although this gentle creature is known all over the world, it is facing the greatest catastrophe – becoming extinct. According to the Australian Koala Foundation (AKF), there are approximately 80 thousand Koalas left and this species is functionally extinct. This is a crucial point, where the population is no longer strong enough to successfully reproduce in the wild.
“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,” said AKF chairman Deborah Tabart, adding that the population could be as low as 43,000.
The Specific Life of Koalas
The Koala is a harmless herbivore that is known for its specific life. It only lives on the Eastern side of the continent. An adult Koala can consume up to one kilogram of eucalyptus leaves per day. Although these leaves are poisonous for most creatures, the Koala has bacteria, which allows it to destroy the toxic compounds and digest the leaves.
Humans are the main enemies
Humans are to blame for the massive death rate of the Koalas, humans are responsible for massive hunting, destroying their natural habitat and also introducing predators that decrease the already low population. In the past, Koalas were hunted for their fur, which was used to make coats. Approximately 8 million Koalas were killed between 1919 – 1924. Today, Koalas are particularly vulnerable to dogs, diseases, logging and the dry and extreme whether that is associated with climate change. Currently, Koalas are protected by the law. However, around 80% of the territory, where Koalas are found, is private property, where they have very little protection.
Is it possible to save the Koalas?
The problem with the low Koala population should have been dealt with much sooner. According to the AKF, the Australian government had to implement the National Recovery Plan in 2012, however, it was neglected. The framework for the KPA is based on the Bald Eagle Act in the U.S., which incorporates both the Federal Endangered Species Act and the environmental protection policies in place. The protection of bald eagles in the USA was especially successful for political reasons because it is a national symbol, so this icon cannot disappear. Whether or not the protection of the Koalas will be successful is still unclear. We have no other choice but to make every effort to protect and reproduce the remaining Koalas and hope that this stunning creature does not become extinct.