Hundreds of koalas have died in forest fires as they burn their natural habitat but they are not threatened with imminent extinction

Koalas as a species, are highly popular. Not found in many zoos a lot of people go to Australia to see them. Perhaps down to the character Binky bill, and the books written about him, koalas are one of the species that almost everyone knows about even though the majority of people haven’t seen them. In the UK only found and in Edinburgh Zoo and Longleat Safari Park, ( with both these arrivals relatively recent) zoo goers are not used to seeing koalas.

Wildlife species only found in Australia are threatened by several factors. The first is the fact that Australia is increasing the clearing their habitats- as in Africa, forest living species cannot survive in the wild when their habitat has been cleared, and unfortunately in Australia large parts of their land are being cleared. While on occasion that has been pledges to replant Forest elsewhere in Australia, generally the firm has either failed to live up to its promises or has not replaced it with like the like- often the new forests are fast growing species that do not support the wildlife of the forest they destroyed.

Australia is one of the countries that is being hit first by global warming with parts of the Continent becoming largely uninhabitable. The increase in temperature is also drying out the forest which is meaning that some of the forest not being cut down are dying anyway.

Over the last decade also Australia has had some politicians who have been prominent climate change deniers, and thus far they seem to be uninterested in doing the things that are required to protect their own way of life.

In this latest fire, hundreds of koalas have been burnt to death, unfortunately the area was actually a highly successful breeding ground and had very high densities (remember that koalas are herbivores and therefore can live at densities of hundreds per square mile).

However sensationalist claims that koalas functionally extinct after these fires is totally false. They are highly endangered with their habitats disappearing at an astounding rate, but be functionally extinct they need to be very few members of the Species left and we are not there yet (functional extinction essentially says without human intervention the species will disappear). There are arguments as to how many koalas are left, but it’s estimated that New South Wales has between 15,000 and 30,000 remaining.

Koala numbers declined by about 40% between 1990 and 2010, so the theory is without a change in the government’s attitude very soon the Koala will be totally extinct in the wild. Isolated cases of reforestation need to be increased and and Forest corridors between blocks would allow the population to rebound naturally (this adds resilience to farmland as well as the wild areas around).

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