Severe wildfires have affected marsupials, only Down Under. Now the government wants to spend 50 million Australian dollars to protect them.
Koalas are now better protected in large areas of Australia. In the states of New South Wales and Queensland, as well as in the Australian Capital Territory with the capital Canberra, the endangered status of funny marsupials has officially been changed from “vulnerable” (vulnerable) to “endangered” (threatened) by Environment Minister Susan Ley. announced on Friday.
Persistent drought, devastating wildfires, disease and habitat loss have led to a sharp decline in koala populations over the past 20 years.
The government plans to spend 50 million Australian dollars (33 million francs) over the next four years to protect the animals.
“We are taking unprecedented action to protect the koala, and are collaborating with scientists, medical researchers, veterinarians, communities, states, local governments and indigenous peoples,” Lay said.
More than 60,000 animals were killed, injured, displaced or traumatized
Especially the Big wildfire August 2019 to March 2020 hit the cute marsupials hard. The environmental organization WWF estimates that more than 60,000 koalas Down Under alone have been killed, injured, driven off or traumatized.
Josie Sharratt of the International Fund for Animal Welfare said: “We should never have allowed it to get to this point and risk losing a national icon.” Wildfires would have decimated an already endangered population of beautiful Eucalyptus eaters.
“This should be a wake-up call for Australia and the government to act more quickly to protect critical habitat from economic development and land clearance, and to aggressively address the impacts of climate change.”
The population has halved since 2001
The Animal Welfare Organization announced that the safety level was improved based on two scientific studies. Koala populations in tropical Queensland have declined by at least 50 percent since 2001 and koalas in New South Wales are threatened with extinction.
The koala – or “Pascolarctos cinereus” – is a marsupial endemic to Down Under, which spends most of the day sleeping in trees and feeding exclusively on eucalyptus leaves. This is possible because the digestive system can neutralize toxic chemicals in plants. According to the Australian Koala Trust, there are at most 100,000 koalas in the wild, “but no more than 43,000”.