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The Koala on the brink of extinction

The Koala on the brink of extinction

The koala is one of the symbols with which Australia is identified, but today it is at risk of disappearing. The Australian Koala Foundation in a statement warned that "there are no more than 80,000 koalas in Australia", which makes the species "functionally extinct."

This species is in sharp decline in many places, and the numbers are really low.

The causes of the extinction of the Koala

How many koalas are left in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia cannot be accurately quantified, but those that do exist are highly vulnerable to threats such as:

  • Deforestation.
  • Diseases.
  • Effects of climate change.

Once a koala population falls below a critical point, it can no longer reproduce the next generation, leading to extinction.

The main threat is habitat loss and the Koala is already declared "functionally extinct"

The term ‘Functionally extinct’ can describe some situations. In one case, it can refer to a species whose population has declined to the point where it can no longer play an important role in the ecosystem. For example, it has been used to describe dingoes (Canis lupus dingo) in places where they have been reduced so much that they have a negligible influence on the species being harvested.

For millions of years, koalas have been a key part of the ecology of eucalyptus forests by eating the upper leaves, and on the forest floor, their droppings contribute to important nutrient recycling.

It is estimated from their fossil records that koalas have existed for approximately 30 million years, and their function may have been to be a food source for carnivores megafauna.

The AKF has been monitoring the 128 Federal electorates that fall within the range of Koala. 41 electorates have no Koalas. Existing legislation gives industry a ‘license to kill’ https://t.co/M4u8sRztSu @ScottMorrisonMP @billshortenmp @RichardDiNatale @ Melissa4Durack @Tony_Burke pic.twitter.com/3Z260eydYW

- Save the Koala (AKF) (@savethekoala) May 9, 2019

‘Functionally extinct’ it can also describe a population that is no longer viable. For example, in Southport, Queensland, native oyster reef beds are functionally extinct because more than 99% of the habitat has been lost and there are no individuals to reproduce.

Finally, ‘Functionally extinct’ it may refer to a small population that, although still reproducing, suffers from inbreeding –– reproduction of closely related individuals or organisms –– which may threaten its future viability.


The numbers

Koala populations in some inland regions of Queensland and New South Wales are affected by extremes of weather, such as severe droughts and heat waves. The result: a decrease of up to 80%.

Since 2010, the AFK has monitored the koala's presence in 128 of Australia's 151 districts. In 41 of them, according to the NGO, the species has already disappeared.

The AKF believes Koalas may be functionally extinct in the entire landscape of Australia. The fate of the #Koala lies in the hands of the next PM. @ScottMorrisonMP @billshortenmp @RichardDiNatale @ Melissa4Durack @Tony_Burke https://t.co/4fit76NfVn

- Save the Koala (AKF) (@savethekoala) May 9, 2019

Video: Drones used to track endangered koalas in Australia (October 2020).