The population of Australian koalas is falling to dangerously low numbers.
According to the Australian Koala Foundation (AKF), there is believed to be no more than 80,000 koalas in Australia, which makes the species “virtually extinct.”
In a press release, the AKF revealed that they have monitored the 128 federal electorates that fall within the range of koalas since 2010. Now, 41 of those electorates have no koalas.
Deforestation, disease, and the effects of climate change are the biggest threats to koalas, and the main reasons their numbers are rapidly decreasing.
In the press release, the Australian Koala Foundation’s chairman, Deborah Tabart, called on the Australian government to contribute to the survival of the iconic marsupial.
“I know the Australian public are concerned for the safety of Koalas and are tired of seeing dead Koalas on our roads. It is time for the government to respect the koala and protect its habitat,” Tabart said in a statement.
While the AKF cannot determine the exact number of koalas remaining, once the koala population falls below a critical number, it can no longer produce the next generation, resulting in definite extinction.
“The AKF thinks there are no more than 80,000 koalas in Australia. This is approximately 1% of the 8 million koalas that were shot for fur and sent to London between 1890 and 1927,” Tabart added.
In her statement, Tabart also called on the Prime Minister Scott Morrison to enact the Koala Protection Act, stating, “the Koala Protection Act (KPA) has been written and ready to go since 2016. The plight of the koala now falls on his shoulders.”
The Koala Protection Act is based on America’s Bald Eagle Act, which works with both the Federal Endangered Species Act and the Environment Protection Authority to protect bald eagles in the United States.
The website savethekoala.com has also been launched to raise awareness about the decline in the Australian koala population, and to provide resources for animal lovers who want to help the species.