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Endangered species and officially koalas in Australia


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Australia today formally listed endangered koalas on its east coast as marsupials struggle to survive the effects of forest fires, droughts, disease and deforestation.

Ecologists argue that the populations of koalas have shrunk in large parts of eastern Australia over the past two decades and warn that animals are on the verge of extinction.

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Environment Minister Susan Lee said she had declared koala populations “extinct” for higher levels of protection in New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and Queensland.

The koalas, which are recognized worldwide as a symbol of Australia’s unique wildlife, were listed as “vulnerable” on the east coast just a decade earlier.

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“We are taking unprecedented measures for the protection of koalas“, said the minister, noting the recent government commitment to allocate $ 36 million for the protection and restoration of their habitat.

Environmentalists welcomed the initiative, but condemned Australia’s failure to protect the species to date.

“Koalas have gone from vulnerable to endangered in a decade. This is a shockingly rapid deterioration,” said WWF Australia scientist Stuart Blanc.

“Today’s decision is acceptable, but it will not stop the koalas from going extinct unless it is accompanied by stricter laws and incentives for landowners to protect their forest environment.”

Ecologists say it is difficult to give accurate data on koala populations in the affected eastern states.

But estimates by an independent government advisory body, the Scientific Committee on Endangered Species, suggest that the number of koalas has dropped from 185,000 in 2001 to 92,000 in 2021.

Alexia Welbilov of the Humane Society International, the world’s largest animal welfare organization, said the East Coast koalas could become extinct by 2050 if no action is taken.

“We can not stand other clearing projects,” he says.

The Australian Conservation Foundation said its own investigation found that the federal government had approved the expropriation of more than 25,000 hectares of koala habitat since the species was declared vulnerable a decade ago.

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