Koalas are now ‘functionally’ extinct with tiny remaining wild population ‘unable to support the next generation’ – The Sun
KOALA numbers have fallen so low that the animals are now "functionally extinct", campaigners have said.
The Australian Koala Foundation says there are fewer than 80,000 koalas left, which is not enough to support a new generation.
The cuddly creature has become a popular symbol of Australia and was even a mascot for the Commonwealth Games last year in Queensland Australia.
But Deborah Tabart chair of the AKF has now written to the leaders of the country's main political parties demanding action to save the emblematic animal.
“The AKF thinks there are no more than 80,000 Koalas in Australia," she said.
“This is approximately one per cent of the 8 million Koalas that were shot for fur and sent to London between 1890 and 1927.”
The term “functionally extinct” describes an animal population which has so few pairs that they are unlikely to produce a new generation.
It can also describe an animal which is breeding in such few numbers that they are more likely to become ill from disease.
Koalas have too few breeding adults left to support the species and any kind of disease would put the final nail in the coffin.
The AKF's Deborah Tabart called on the Prime Minister Scott Morrison to enact the Koala Protection Act.
She said the legislation “has been written and ready to go since 2016. The plight of the koala now falls on his shoulders”.
They are dying out due to effects caused by climate change and temperatures are causing heatwaves that kill thousands of koalas through dehydration.
The species has also suffered hugely from deforestation.
The word koala is thought to have meant “no drink” in one of the Aboriginal languages, according to the savethekoala.com website of the AKF.
Koalas don’t need to drink very often because they get most of the moisture they need from eucalyptus leaves though they occasionally drink from waterholes.
When Europeans first came to Australia, they thought that koalas looked like bears and so they were often called Koala bears.
But they are marsupials and their correct name is koalas.
Since May 2012, koalas have been officially listed as vulnerable in Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.
According to the Australian Koala Foundation, there are no koalas left at all in 41 out of 128 Federal environments in Australia where they have been known to live.
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