Koalas now ‘functionally extinct’ says Australian Koala Foundation

They are in danger of going the way of the dodo.

Koala bears have been declared “functionally extinct,” the Australian Koala Foundation reports.

The New York Post reports that the fluffy marsupial is down to just 80,000 wild species members, meaning there aren’t enough breeding adults left to support another generation of the pouched mammals.

media_cameraKoalas are hanging on to survival. Picture: Supplied

The tree-dwelling species has been ravaged by the effects of rising temperatures and heatwaves, which have caused widespread deforestation and fatal dehydration in koalas, according to the AKF.

Only 41 of the koala’s 128 known habitats in federal environments have any of the animals left.

media_cameraBill Shorten holding Brandi the six year-old koala while attending Australia Zoo in Beerwah north of Brisbane. Picture: Liam Kidston

If a new disease or genetic pathogen of any kind is introduced, surviving koalas will die off rapidly. Activists are begging local politicians to step in.

“I know the Australian public are concerned for the safety of koalas and are tired of seeing dead koalas on our roads,” says AKF chairman Deborah Tabart. “I am calling on the new prime minister after the May election to enact the Koala Protection Act (KPA) which has been written and ready to go since 2016.”

media_cameraBaby koala Josh and Wallaby joey Louie. Picture: Rob Leeson.

There is hope: The Koala Protection Act is based on the US’s Bald Eagle Act, which was successful in rescuing America’s national symbol from the threatened species list.

“The Bald Eagle Act was successful because there was political motive to ensure their icon did not go extinct,” says Tabart. “It is time for the koala to be afforded the same respect.”

media_cameraFive-month-old baby koala Clancy, 13cm long and weighing 450g, sitting on his mother, Popcorn, at Gorge Wildlife Park, Cudlee Creek. Picture: Supplied

This article originally appeared in the New York Post and is republished here with permission

Originally published as Koalas now ‘functionally extinct’

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