Do You Know Why Koalas are Dying? The Disturbing Truth

10/24/2016

You wouldn’t know that the koala population is in peril by a quick internet search, but the beloved marsupial is in crisis. There is likely less than 43,000 left in the wild. They are dying exponentially faster than they are multiplying, and it has everything to do with the Australian government. On top of their complete lack of adequate conservation policy, they even allowed the killing of almost 700 koalas in a secret cull in 2015.


sleepy-koala


It resembles a good old-fashioned conspiracy; the continent’s trademark fuzzy animal should be the highest priority. Instead, for 11 years government officials rejected applications from the Australian Koala Foundation to change the koala’s status to ‘vulnerable’ under the provisions of the Endangered Species Protection Act.

For an animal whose very existence brings Australia $1.1 billion tourism dollars annually, the complacency of these officials is confounding.


google-koala


The federal government passes the responsibility of koala safety to the states. The states pass the buck to local governments. The local government hasn’t the resources to do much, if anything concerning koala safety.

So why are koalas dying at an accelerated rate?

It’s because the wild itself is dying. Australia is not quite the lush wildlife habitat that we imagine it to be. Urbanization is taking over copious amounts of its forest; overall, it has lost nearly 40% of its forests  since colonization - and much of what remains is highly fragmented. These fragmented areas are the center of the koala’s problem, where the suburbs collide with wilderness. Newly erected neighborhoods contain cars, dogs, and fences; all of which cause a combined 4,000 koala deaths per year. Cities are bulldozing over the koala’s habitat, and they have nowhere else to go.  

What we see on the internet are innocently-titled videos of koalas, such as “Cheeky koala holds up traffic on Australian Highway”, and “Only in Australia – koala runs onto soccer field mid-game”. These are dangerous events for koalas and should be a cause for alarm - not a 30-second fluff video to pass the time.  


tired koala bear



Why is the wilderness dying?


Because the government’s priorities are highly skewed against protecting it. Councilors refused to pass Pottsville mayor Katie Milne’s motion to build an underpass providing safe koala crossing near a busy highway, even though a $50,000 offset for lost trees due to construction was flagged for an underpass.  The council opted to use that money for signage - on the argument an underpass would not fit. Even after measuring that proved an underpass would fit.

Mayor Milne pleaded, “This section of Coronation Avenue at Pottsville crosses a narrow but vital wildlife corridor between Pottsville’s koalas to the north and south. The corridor has been squeezed to a critical pinch point at the road interface and is recognized as a blackspot for koalas. The koalas on the coast are in serious jeopardy and need the best possible option to reduce mortality at road crossings.” But the council remained steadfast.

Often, it appears local officials are more sympathetic to the plight of land developers (and their money) than it is the koalas – and in this particular case, the head of the development company denies that they are harming any koalas - even indirectly - by razoring trees and destroying their food supply.  



grey-koala-bear


How you can help

You can help save the koalas that the Australian government ignores. Don’t let their carelessness erase koalas from the planet permanently. Share this information. Let the Australian government know that acknowledging the koala’s vulnerable status and protecting them should be of the highest importance.

Petitions 

Save 200 koalas that would be sacrificed due to a new highway project.

Help save koalas from deforestation.

Sign a petition to persuade Australia's Environmental prime minister to elevate koalas to "endangered" status


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