“Koalas to be listed as threatened amid rapid decline”
Endangered in southeast Queensland my dog’s ears! Their population is not especially dense where I live but as I type this at near 2 pm I can see two of the rowdy little mongrels snoozing in tree forks from my office window. So regularly do they traverse the backyard we have to keep the dogs shut up overnight (larger dogs can kill koalas and although not really bears koalas can use their claws quite effectively lacerating dogs – they are best kept separated). Populations have not thrived during the recent drought but will rebound with all the new tree growth since the drought broke a couple of years back – as they have always done. Marsupial population boom and bust is the normal way in the ENSO-driven land of nought or plenty.
KOALAS are expected to be listed as a threatened species across parts of Australia from Monday, and some environment groups claim the government has excluded the marsupial from protection in certain areas due to mining interests.
Research conducted near Gunnedah, which is promoted as the ”koala capital of the world”, show numbers for the animal there have declined by 75 per cent since 1993, yet koalas in the area are not expected to be granted extra protection.
The Environment Minister, Tony Burke, said his decisions about the animal’s status were based on advice from the national Threatened Species Scientific Committee. A decision originally slated for mid-February was deferred until April 30.
The new ruling will be published next week but, based on current data, is likely to list koalas in south-east Queensland as ”endangered”, and animals east of the Great Dividing Range in NSW as ”vulnerable”.
In practical terms, the listings would mean the federal government could potentially impose conditions on plans for new mines, housing developments and logging operations to stop them from interfering with koalas and their habitat.
The national icon is dwindling because of the combined pressures of development in its habitat, drought, climate change and from the disease chlamydia.
Its numbers in Victoria and South Australia are relatively healthy and so the animals are unlikely to attract the protective classifications in those states.