Good Start For Koala Protection

Monday, 30 April, 2012

International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW - welcomes the Environment Minister's announcement today listing certain koala populations on the national list of threatened species.

Isabel McCrea, IFAW Australia Director said this is an important step towards stemming declines in koala numbers.

“This is good news for koalas but will need to be followed up with real action from both federal and state governments if it is going to translate into effective protection for koalas in the trees as well as on the ground,” said Ms McCrea.

“What’s needed is a coordinated, well funded and standardized approach to population estimates and monitoring, more money for disease research and control and more effective action to protect key habitat from logging and development.” 

“We hope that Victoria and South Australian Governments (with populations not listed) together with NSW, Queensland and ACT will cooperate with the Australian Government states to ensure standardization and compatibility in population and habitat data collection,” Ms McCrea said.

Koalas face a number of threats including from loss and fragmentation of their habitat due to insensitive development. Land clearing often results in koala injury or death. The loss of food trees leads to more time spent on the ground where they can be hurt by dog attack or cars. Habitat fragmentation is also thought to increase koalas’ vulnerability to drought and diseases including Chlamydia and koala retrovirus which are decimating koalas in many areas.

Population estimates are not reliable at national or state level – funding is not currently made available to provide standardized and nationwide data. Some estimates suggest 10 million koalas existed before European settlement began with numbers now just a fraction of that. The Threatened Species Scientific Committee suggests a 2010 level as low as 200,000, down from 430,000 in 1990. The lack of better population estimates is the reason that the Committee has not recommended listing koalas to date. But there is now more recent evidence of sharp declines, sometimes as much as 80%, in areas where good data does exist.

About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in distress all over the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW provides hands-on assistance to animals in need, works to prevent animal cruelty, and advocates protecting wildlife and their habitats. For more information: Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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