Baby koala! Image Source.
2017 hasn’t been great. This is the year we have been forced to reckon with just how much we’ve (aka HUMANS) have ruined life for just about every single species on planet earth.
Now, the news has come in that the past 20 years have seen a sharp decline in koala populations across Australia. For some areas, that figure is up to an 80% decrease.
As Ian Darbyshire, CEO of the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife told HuffPost Australia:
“In the past five years, we have seen the population go from about 100,000 to 40,000. At this rate, they will be extinct by 2040.”
The main reason for the decline, according to Darbyshire and the HuffPost, is the loss of habitat, “if you look at south east Queensland and northern New South Wales, you’ve got Brisbane, which is expanding, and the Gold Coast which is expanding. With these developments comes a loss of habitat for koalas.”
In more detail, he explains that roads splitting “connectivity between trees” has forced koalas to cross busy roads. When they have to move to ground level, koalas are at more risk from cars, but also other predators, such as dogs. Fragmented populations have led to “inbreeding, disease and stress”.
The best place to start, to make sure that koalas don’t end up on the vulnerable list (along with plenty of Australian biodiversity) is to educate towns on what they can do to bolster remaining populations.
“I think the public needs a fair bit of education and support to understand they do need help. We need actions from individuals to make sure they have koala-friendly fences, that they have their dogs under control. If you see one on the road, help it across. We should be doing more to help them”. You can also leave out water on hot days, and make it easier for them to travel from yard to yard to avoid dogs.
The koala is endemic to Australia, so if we don’t sort out this sharp decline soon, we’ll lose them forever. Read more at HuffPost Australia.
We’re ruining everything: