Koala population has declined by 30% since 2018: study

Sydney, Australia, Sep 20 (EFE).- The koala population across Australia has declined by 30 percent since 2018 due to factors such as climate change, land clearing, mining, agriculture and devastating bushfires, according to a report by the Australian Koalas Foundation (AKF) published on Monday.

The report says that the population of these marsupials decreased from between 45,745 – 82,170 in 2018 to between 32,065 – 57,920 currently.

The state of New South Wales, located along Australia’s east coast and the country’s most populous, reported a decline of 41 percent in the population of koalas, which are now extinct in 47 electorates, the document added.

That state was affected by the 2019–20 Australian bushfire season, known as the Black Summer, which killed 34 people, burned more than 5,000 buildings and 186,000 square kilometers (71,815 square miles) of land, and affected 3 billion animals, including 60,000 koalas who were killed or forced out of their habitat.

“The terrible bushfires of 2019-20 of course contributed to this outcome, however, they are certainly not the only reason we are seeing Koala populations on the decline,” AKF Chair Deborah Tabart said in a statement.

“We have witnessed a drastic decrease in inland populations because of drought, heat waves, and lack of water for Koalas to drink,” she added.

Tabart also cited land clearing, particularly across NSW and South East Queensland, for farming, housing development and mining as a major factor in the decline of the koala population.

“Urgent action to stop land clearing in prime Koala habitat is required if we are to save our beloved national animal from peril,” she said.

Koalas, which are particularly vulnerable to any changes in the environment, sleep for about 20 hours a day and use the remaining four hours to feed on the leaves of various species of eucalypts.

Much of the koala population in eastern Australia has been decimated by the retrovirus (KoRV), their equivalent of HIV which predisposes them to contract chlamydia and other diseases. EFE


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