Australia officially classes koalas as an endangered species 4 months ago

Australia officially classes koalas as an endangered species

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Australia's environment minister has said that koalas are now an endangered species.

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Along with much of the country's eastern coastline, Sussan Ley said that the koalas in New South Wales, Queensland, and the Australian Capital Territory are now classified as endangered.

The koalas in these areas were previously seen as vulnerable.

Ley said: "The impact of prolonged drought, followed by the black summer bushfires, and the cumulative impacts of disease, urbanisation and habitat loss over the past 20 years have led to the advice.

"The new listing highlights the challenges the species is facing and ensures that all assessments under the act will be considered not only in terms of their local impacts, but with regard to the wider koala population."

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Australia has now lost about 30% of its koalas over the last three years, with the figures in New South Wales seen as the worst, dropping by 41%, according to the Australian Koala Foundation.

A study carried out by World Wide Find for Nature estimated that the bushfires in 2019 and 2020 killed or injured more than 60,000 koalas.

International Fund for Animal Welfare Manager Josey Sharrad said: "We should never have allowed things to get to the point where we are at risk of losing a national icon.

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"If we can't protect an iconic species endemic to Australia, what chance do lesser known but no less important species have?"