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Australia Sees 30% Decline in Koala Population in Three Years

·3 min read
A koala affected by the recent bushfires is released back into native bushland following treatment at the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park on February 21, 2020 in Parndana, Australia.
A koala affected by the recent bushfires is released back into native bushland following treatment at the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park on February 21, 2020 in Parndana, Australia.

Lisa Maree Williams/Getty

Australia's koala population is dwindling.

A press release published by the Australian Koala Foundation (AKF) Monday states that the species is in "rapid decline," with an estimated current population of between 32,065 to 57,920 compared to a 2018 population count of between 45,745 and 82,170 — marking a 30 percent loss of the national animal over the past three years.

Each region in Australia saw a population decrease, with some areas down to just five to 10 koalas total, AFK revealed.

The animals face threats like habitat destruction and drought, according to the organization, which reports that 80% of koala habitat in Australia has disappeared.

Now, Chair of the Australian Koala Foundation, Deborah Tabart is asking politicians to "be on notice."

"Each and every federal politician in these electorates should now be on notice to protect not only the koalas in their electorate but the habitat that remains," Tabart said in the release. "The good news is that in many cases there is good habitat left. Now is the time to get into action and get them full again. That is what Koala recovery looks like."

A koala affected by the recent bushfires is released back into native bushland following treatment at the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park on February 21, 2020 in Parndana, Australia.
A koala affected by the recent bushfires is released back into native bushland following treatment at the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park on February 21, 2020 in Parndana, Australia.

Lisa Maree Williams/Getty

RELATED: After Surviving Australia's Bushfires, a Koala Mom and Her Baby Have Returned to the Wild

Tabart added, "The terrible bushfires of 2019-20 of course contributed to this outcome, however, they are certainly not the only reason we are seeing Koala populations on the decline."

"We have witnessed a drastic decrease in inland populations because of drought, heat waves, and lack of water for Koalas to drink," she continued. "I have seen some landscapes that look like the moon – with dead and dying trees everywhere."

Tabart cited land clearing as a "lethal" threat to koalas, specifically pointing to clearances in New South Wales and South East Queensland, where habitats are being destroyed to make way for "farming, housing development and mining."

RELATED: Save the Koala Day Is Coming! Celebrate by Working from Home with a Bunch of Koalas

"Urgent action to stop land clearing in prime Koala habitat is required if we are to save our beloved national animal from peril," Tabart said.

The group is seeking a Koala Protection Act to keep the animals safe and thriving. The AKF website states that the proposed act would "focus on protecting trees, including habitats that are empty."

While existing legislation in the country focuses on protecting the animals, AKF notes that "the habitat is almost impossible to protect," adding, "the reason we have been so clear about protection of the trees is because if you are a Koala and lose your home, you have nothing to eat, and you are lost, leaving you more susceptible to threats such as cars and dogs."

Tabart told Reuters that "action is now imperative" in saving the species.

"I know that it can just sound like this endless story of dearth and destruction, but these figures are right," she told the outlet. "They're probably worse."

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