Koalas will face extinction in Australia’s New South Wales (NSW) state before 2050 due to the continuous destruction of their habitat and frequent natural disasters occurring in the region, according to an official report published on Tuesday which urges greater environmental protection.
According to ecologist Oisin Sweeney’s research, some 15,000 to 20,000 koalas were in NSW which suffered devastating bushfires during the southern summer, while a report by the region’s parliamentary committee said that the exact number of the species are difficult to establish, Efe news reported.
“Before the bushfires we heard reports from wildlife carers that Koalas were coming into their care who were dehydrated, that were malnourished because of the drought and because of heat waves and water shortages,” Committee Chairperson Cate Faehrmann told the media.
According to the report, the bushfires killed at least 5,000 koalas and added that, “the ongoing destruction of koala habitat through the clearing of land for agriculture, development, mining and forestry has severely impacted most koala populations in the state over many decades”.
According to the report, the years before these bushfires, the koalas in the region already were facing difficult situation due to periods of droughts and fragmentation of their habitats as a result of human development.
In addition to these difficulties, the koalas suffer from climate change, accidents while crossing roads, attacks by other wild and domestic animals along with chlamydia, a bacterial disease hat causes blindness, infertility and often death.
Following the release of the report, which made 42 recommendations, the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia urged immediate action from the government to modify land clearing laws and deforestation in the state of New South Wales.
“The NSW Government has failed to stop core koala habitat being bulldozed on private land or chopped down in coastal state forests. No trees, no koalas,” Senior Manager, Land Clearing and Restoration, WWF-Australia Stuart Blanch said in a statement released.
A 2018 report by the WWF revealed that since the Native Vegetation Act was done away with in August 2017, the rate of forest clearing tripled to stand t 8,194 hectares in the northern part of NSW.
The koala (Phascolarctos cinereus), which in Aboriginal language means “no water” – referring to the fact that 90 per cent of its hydration comes from the eucalyptus leaves it eats, is considered a vulnerable species in several areas of the country.