Fears for koalas as study reveals 'marked decline'

September 22, 2011
A koala displaced by flood waters recovers in an emergency shelter at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane. Australia's much-loved koala is under increasing threat and should be considered a vulnerable species, an official report found Thursday, with habitat loss seeing their numbers plunge.

Australia's much-loved koala is under increasing threat and should be considered a vulnerable species, an official report found Thursday, with habitat loss seeing their numbers plunge.

The furry native marsupial has experienced a "marked decline" as the species faced down threats on a range of fronts including dog attacks and car accidents, according to a government inquiry into koala protection.

Thought to number in excess of 10 million before British settlers arrived in 1788, there are now believed to be as few as 43,515 left in the wild, though their existence high in the treetops makes them difficult to count

Drought, land-clearing, urban development, and disease were among other serious dangers to the tree-dwellers.

"The koala is an instantly recognisable symbol of Australia as well as being an integral part of Australian ," the inquiry said.

was the single greatest threat facing the koala population, leaving them more susceptible to diseases including and the koala , and fragmenting breeding populations.

Groups in Australia's north were more endangered than those in the south, where they were so abundant in some areas food was running scarce, and the dangers varied from region to region, meaning there were "no easy solutions".

The report urged the government to consider the koala for classing as a vulnerable species, warning that urgent action was required to keep it from drifting "ever closer to the threatened species list."

"The committee is deeply concerned about the sustainability of Australia's koala population," it said.

Mapping and monitoring populations across Australia and were also among the inquiry's 19 recommendations, which called for the establishment of protected habitat areas, especially on government land.

Disease studies were also vital, including possible vaccination against chlamydia and retrovirus and the impact of changing leaf chemistry.

Wild dog management in priority areas was key, as was lowering speed limits, fencing off danger zones and, if required, building overpasses or underpasses to protect the native creatures, the report said.

Female koalas typically live for 15 years, males for 12, subsisting on a diet of native eucalyptus leaves.

Explore further: Vaccine trials inject hope into koala's future

Related Stories

Vaccine trials inject hope into koala's future

July 16, 2007

The first Australian trials of a vaccine developed by Queensland University of Technology that could save Australia's iconic koala from contracting chlamydia are planned to begin later this year.

Orphaned koala becomes first-time mother

November 14, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- An orphaned baby koala that was flown 1200km to be raised in captivity has recently become a first-time mum, following her successful return to the wild.

Research finds koalas are no dwarves

December 11, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- University of Queensland research has found one of Australia's iconic animals is not a shadow of its former self.

Koalas feel the heat

May 4, 2011

The Australian koala is vulnerable to climate change, with the iconic Australian marsupial's habitat likely to be restricted to the highly urbanised areas of eastern and southern Australia under a hotter and drier climate, ...

Recommended for you

Scientists overcome key CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing hurdle

December 1, 2015

Researchers at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT have engineered changes to the revolutionary CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing system that significantly cut down on "off-target" ...

Study finds 'rudimentary' empathy in macaques

December 1, 2015

(Phys.org)—A pair of researchers with Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and Université Lyon, in France has conducted a study that has shown that macaques have at least some degree of empathy towards their fellow ...

Which came first—the sponge or the comb jelly?

December 1, 2015

Bristol study reaffirms classical view of early animal evolution. Whether sponges or comb jellies (also known as sea gooseberries) represent the oldest extant animal phylum is of crucial importance to our understanding of ...

Trap-jaw ants exhibit previously unseen jumping behavior

December 1, 2015

A species of trap-jaw ant has been found to exhibit a previously unseen jumping behavior, using its legs rather than its powerful jaws. The discovery makes this species, Odontomachus rixosus, the only species of ant that ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.