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Byron Shire
April 22, 2021

Koalas a step closer to endangered

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Koalas, our much-loved marsupial, has moved a step closer to an endangered listing on the east coast, after a nomination by conservation groups who welcomed the increased attention on the plight of the species.

Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley has added the combined koala populations of Queensland, New South Wales and the ACT to the priority list for assessment by her independent Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC).

She has given the committee a deadline of October 2021 to work through the science and make a recommendation on whether east coast koalas should be uplisted from vulnerable to endangered.

The priority assessment list was published last week and can be viewed here , with the koala the only species added to the list after a nomination from the public.

Three organisations present strong evidence

Humane Society International (HSI), the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia (WWF-Australia), and the International Fund for Animal Welfare jointly nominated the koala to be listed as endangered in March.

That followed severe population declines, made worse by the devastating bushfires of 2019-20.

The three organisations presented strong evidence, based on reports by Biolink environmental consultants, to support the nomination.

HSI Head of campaigns Nicola Beynon said they welcome prioritisation for the koala but also hope the process can be sped up and the koala listed as endangered before October 2021. ‘Koalas are threatened by deforestation, bushfires, drought, dog attacks, vehicle collision and Chlamydia disease.’

WWF-Australia conservation scientist Dr Stuart Blanch said that since the nomination, WWF has published research showing a 71% decline in koala numbers at six fire grounds in northern NSW. ‘Remaining koala forest must be protected, and patches of habitat reconnected, or a zoo will be the only place to see a koala on the east coast.’

IFAW Wildlife Campaigner Josey Sharrad said koalas on the east coast are sliding towards extinction and should be listed as endangered. ‘This is a koala emergency and immediate action is needed to bring this iconic species back from the brink of extinction.’

Endangered in the space of a decade

As an indication of their rapid decline, if east coast koalas are listed as endangered they will have gone from being not listed, to listed as vulnerable, to listed as endangered in the space of a decade.

The conservation groups also welcome the priority treatment for many other bushfire impacted species such as the greater glider, yellow-bellied glider, long-nosed bandicoot, long-nosed potoroo, and eight Kangaroo Island bird species.


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1 COMMENT

  1. As a long time committed environmentalist I believe the Koala (along with many other native species)needed to go not he endangered species list about 30yrs ago. I was at conferences 35yrs ago where environment groups /animal welfare organisations were TRYING to get Koalas onto the front page of media outlets, highlighting their lack of habitat & threats due to increased logging. Talk about galling , yet still governments state & federal ignored these pleas & chose to look the other way. WHILE POLITICIANS HUGGED KOALAS FOR MEDIA MUG SHOTS IN ORDER TO PORTRAY TO AUSTRALIAN citizens & THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY THAT THEY ‘LOVED’ KOALAS , THE REALITY WAS THEY DID NOTHING TO PROTECT THEM. How cynical & arrogant not to mention dispassionate. All of our under appreciated & often maligned wildlife are in deep trouble & yet there are few people who fight for them. This breaks my hippie heart to think that human primates can not see the value /importance and uniqueness of our precious fauna. They are NO less than us, in fact they are of more value to our ecology than our arrogant & destructive species.

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