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5 Reasons Why We Need to Protect Koalas (Video)

5 Reasons Why We Need to Protect Koalas (Video)

Koalas are Australia’s iconic animal. Tragically, their numbers have vastly declined and they are now listed as a “vulnerable” species in some parts of Australia in a recently approved government listing, NPR reports. But wildlife advocates argue that far more needs to be done.

Koalas have been given “vulnerable” status but this is the least protected status. Plus, it was only granted to koalas in two states where their populations are fast declining, New South Wales and Queensland. As Larissa Waters, environment spokesperson for the Australian Greens, says “It would have made more sense to give the koala a national listing, instead of waiting for koala populations in South Australia and Victoria to fall into decline without protection.”

Lorraine Vass, president of Friends of the Koala, says that urbanization and habitat loss pose the greatest threats to koalas. Koalas find themselves competing with humans, especially on Australia’s densely populated east coast: “The difficulty is that koalas, by and large, live where we want to live,” says Vass.

From October to April, Friends of the Koalas volunteers are kept busy as they receive at least four calls a day about koalas who are sick or injured from car accidents, dog attacks, disease and more. The organization rescues about 300 koalas annually but releases only 60 to 65 back into the wild which is “not a very good success rate at all,” says Vass.  A push for gas drilling and fracking along Australia’s east coast will only further endanger the koalas’ habitat.

Deborah Tabart, president of the Australian Koala Foundation, argues that koalas need to be protected by a national law similar to the US’s Bald Eagle Protection Act. Here are five reasons that koalas indeed need more protected status:

1. Koalas’ numbers are dwindling at a shocking rate.

While there were once millions of koalas in Australia, only about 100,000 remain today and the number could be as low as 43,000. Koalas were nearly hunted into extinction in the early twentieth century for their thick fur.

2. Koalas are a huge draw for tourists.

About 75 percent of visitors to Australia say they wish to see koalas, who bring in an estimated $1 billion annually. As Tabart notes, the first thing that Oprah did when she visited was to cuddle a koala.

3. Koalas are extremely finicky eaters.

Koalas eat only the leaves of the eucalyptus tree, a species that has been “aggressively cleared for urban development.” But the eucalyptus’ nutritional value has decline due to climate change and increases of CO2 in the air.

4. Koalas are extremely vulnerable to climate change.

In fact, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature says that the koala is one of the 10 most vulnerable species in the world to climate change.

5. Koalas are a species that “doesn’t eat anyone, doesn’t destroy any crops, doesn’t do anything except sit in a tree and look magnificent,” emphasizes Tabart.

Given all these reasons, Tabart is right to express exasperation and, in regard to winning more protections for koalas, to say that ”the forces against this are very big.”

In the video below, a koala named Constable Nevin, a permanent care resident in the Friends of the Koala Care Centre, demonstrates his bellowing.

 

Related Care2 Coverage

Success! Some Koala Populations Now Officially Protected in Australia

Stolen Koala Found in Parking Lot After Two Days (VIDEO)

Koalas Threatened by AIDS, STDs and Urbanization

 

 

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Photo by justawordaway

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3:38PM PDT on Aug 31, 2012

Thank you so much for sharing, I put it on facebook because a lot of people just aren't aware.

4:07PM PDT on Aug 23, 2012

No reasons needed full stop

7:34AM PDT on Aug 14, 2012

I live in Victoria, Australia. Yes, we love the Koala and we do everything to protect them. Not everything is perfect, but they are doing OK.

10:45PM PDT on Aug 11, 2012

"If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men. ---St. Francis of Assisi..."

2:14PM PDT on Aug 9, 2012

The bellowing is awesome! I went to Australia many years ago and we made very specific plans during our trip to go to a wildlife rehabilitation centre that allowed tourists where we could hold a koala. It was really cool even though he pooed on me (which is apparently very common). We also went to Magnetic Island which is (at least it was) a National Park so the wilderness is kept mostly intact - pretty unbelievable that the entire east coast once looked that way. We saw many koalas in the wild on the island, but that is the only place where we saw any. And that was 17 years ago. I can't imagine how much worse it is now. So sad. I wish people would have more respect and admiration for their local wildlife. Here we think of squirrels and raccoons as pests (I use the term "we" lightly as I obviously do not feel this way myself), but koalas and kangaroos are remarkable. There, people get excited at the idea of squirrels and raccoons. Too bad the grass is always greener on the other side, as we are all running out of grass.

11:51AM PDT on Aug 9, 2012

As the article states, "Koalas eat the leaves of the Eucalyptus tree".

But that isn't the only problem. They eat SPECIFIC Eucalyptus tree leaves. So if you re-locate one that is used to one type, but is offered another type, it won't eat it, and will starve, or at least get very sick. This is what is making it so difficult to rescue/rehab/release.

Just more info for us to think about........

10:40AM PDT on Aug 9, 2012

Thanks for sharing. This is very sad to hear. They need us to protect them since they can't really do it themselves and it's kind of our fault that their numbers are decreasing so rapidly.

7:28AM PDT on Aug 9, 2012

I am an Aussie and totally agree there is nowhere near enough being done for these darlings.

5:22AM PDT on Aug 9, 2012

thanks for sharing Kristina

5:02AM PDT on Aug 9, 2012

I love koala's

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