Koala Habitat Protection with Detection Dogs – AustraliaIn Australia, detection dogs are a koala’s best friend
Sydney, 11 February, 2022 — The significant and immediate threats facing koalas have been recognised by Australia’s environment minister who has uplisted the status of the iconic animal from Vulnerable to Endangered.
The decision follows a joint nomination by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Humane Society International (HSI) and WWF-Australia in April 2020 to Australia’s Threatened Species Scientific Committee.
Koalas in Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory will now be classified as Endangered under national legislation and will gain elevated protections. The decision also recognises that the koala is one step further along the pathway to extinction.
“Koalas are an international and national icon, but they were living on a knife edge before the Black Summer bushfires with numbers in severe decline due to land-clearing, drought, disease, car strikes and dog attacks. The bushfires were the final straw, hitting at the heart of already struggling koala populations and critical habitat,” IFAW Oceania Regional Director Rebecca Keeble said.
“This decision is a double-edged sword. We should never have allowed things to get to the point where we are at risk of losing a national icon. It is a dark day for our nation. If we can’t protect an iconic species endemic to Australia, what chance do lesser known but no less important species have?
“This must be a wake-up call to Australia and the government to move much faster to protect critical habitat from development and land-clearing and seriously address the impacts of climate change.”
The nomination was submitted on the basis of two scientific reports which revealed Queensland’s koala population crashed by at least 50% since 2001 and up to 62% of the NSW koala population has been lost over the same period.
IFAW looks forward to seeing the implementation of the long overdue national recovery plan for koalas. We hope it will include strong actions and the funding needed to fully address the key threats driving the species to extinction, the number one threat being habitat loss.
IFAW also welcomed the federal government’s recent $50AUD million pledge for koala recovery and habitat restoration.
“These actions are vital to ensure the survival of the species into the future, but without addressing the root cause of their decline, which is habitat loss and climate change, we are just plugging holes in a sinking ship. We must do everything possible to implement the plan and save this iconic species,” Ms Keeble said.
Photos and videos can be found here.
· Koala populations in Queensland, NSW and the ACT were listed as Vulnerable under the Australian government’s EPBC Act in May 2012. Since then, koalas have suffered relentless ongoing pressure. Land clearing has ramped up, increasing 13-fold in New South Wales since the government weakened native vegetation laws in 2016.
· In March 2020, IFAW put in a separate joint nomination to the New South Wales Threatened Species Scientific Committee for an emergency uplisting for the state's koalas. IFAW was disappointed this did not happen and urged the New South Wales government and Threatened Species Scientific Committee to follow suit and list koalas as Endangered under state legislation.
· The scientific reports which formed the basis of the nominations were published by ecological consultants Biolink.
· An IFAW petition supporting greater protections for koalas has garnered support from more than 250,000 people across the world.
· Australia is already facing an extinction crisis and has lost more biodiversity than any other developed nation in the past 200 years.
· Researchers estimate that more than one billion animals were lost during the Black Summer bushfires of 2019-2020.
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About the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) - The International Fund for Animal Welfare is a global non-profit helping animal and people thrive together. We are experts and everyday people, working across seas, oceans and in more than 40 countries around the world. We rescue, rehabilitate and release animals, and we restore and protect their natural habitats. The problems we’re up against are urgent and complicated. To solve them, we match fresh thinking with bold action. We partner with local communities, governments, non-governmental organisations and businesses. Together, we pioneer new and innovative ways to help all species flourish. See how at ifaw.org