Koala bears ( Phascolarctos cinereus) are probably the most well known marsupials in Australia especially after the world was shown devastating photos of the 2019 Australian wildfires.
They live in wild habitats that consist of eucalyptus forests and woodlands across southeastern and eastern Australia in the states of Quennsland, new South Wales, South Australia and Victoria.
After an estimated 25,000 deaths of the Australian native marsupial during the wildfires many scientists have feared that their status of Vulnerable to extinction will change to functionally extinct in the future. This means their population will have depleted to a point where they no longer have a significant role in the eco-system or have enough individuals to produce future generations.
The wildfires posed a significantly higher threat to Koalas than to species such as birds and Kangaroos, due to the slow movement of the Koalas it is almost as if they were ‘stuck’ where they were, where as other species can fly or hop/run away much faster.
Koalas were already in decline before the fires began due to land development, food degradation, drought, dog attacks and chlamydia. Unfortunately it is very difficult to have an accurate census of their population as they are shy to humans and are usually extremely high in the trees.
Plans have been discussed for prevention of further decline which include rewilding, relocating and protecting land. David Bowman a landscape fire expert says “We’ve got to get with the program and start adapting. If we want koalas, we’ve got to look after them. We need to step up.”
We hope that these lovable creatures can recover their population over time.