Koalas May Become Extinct in Part of Australia by 2050, Government Study Finds

Koalas in New South Wales, Australia have faced incredible hardships recently.

Koalas in Australia may be in graver danger than we thought.

According to a new report published Tuesday, the koala population in the Australian state of New South Wales is on track to go extinct in the wild within the next 30 years. As the report found, the devastating wildfires in late 2019 into early 2020 caused a massive loss in population, from which the species may never recover.

"Given the scale of loss to koala populations across New South Wales as a result of the 2019- 2020 bushfires and without urgent government intervention to protect habitat and address all other threats, the koala will become extinct in New South Wales before 2050," the report explained.

Cate Faehrmann, the chairman of the committee that conducted the inquiry, told CBS, the study was conducted due to a"significant concern in the community about the future of Australia's most loved animal, the koala.”

According to the report, some 5,000 koalas likely died in the brushfires in the region, but their lives were in peril long before this.

Australian Koala sleeping on tree
Benjawan Sittidech/Getty Images

"Even before the devastating 2019-2020 bushfires it was clear that the koala in NSW, already a threatened species, was in significant trouble, with the committee finding that the official government estimate of 36,000 koalas contained in the NSW Koala Strategy is outdated and unreliable," Faehrmann wrote in the report. "Then came the fires."

The committee, the BBC explained, noted that the fires, coupled with climate change and droughts, further reduced the quality of the eucalyptus, which the koalas feed on to survive. This, coupled with poor laws protecting the animals, lead the team to its dire conclusion.

"At every turn we were handed evidence that showed our current laws are inadequate and facilitating the clearing of core koala habitat," Faehrmann told the BBC. "The strategies and policies currently in place to protect the koala aren't working."

To help save the koalas the team provided 42 recommendations to save them, including establishing new national parks and reducing land clearing, the BBC reported.

"Koalas are an iconic Australian animal recognized the world over,” state Environment Minster Matt Kean said, “a national treasure which we will do everything we can to protect for future generations."

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