Australia’s Last Koalas: Extinction Is Looming, Unless We Act Quickly

A man walked into an Australian council office dragging a dead koala with him. He wanted to make a point. Australia’s koalas are dying and not enough is being done to help them.

Australias Last Koalas?

September is National Save the Koala Month, and they really do need saving. According to the Australian Koala Foundation, there are roughly 80,000 wild koalas left, but in reality, there could be as few as 43,000 left in the wild.

As reported in Global Post, Janine Duffy has known Clancy the Koala since he was in his mother’s womb. Duffy has seen entire generations and families of koalas from her time at her wildlife research and tourism company; she uses the income from the tourism company to fund her koala research. Duffy and her team knew Clancy’s mother. She never showed much fear towards the humans, and neither did he.

Clancy is more than a cute 5-year-old koala. Since before he was born, Clancy is part of one of the largest “comprehensive citizen science projects” ever developed. The goal of the citizen science project is to save endangered koalas in the wild from extinction.

Clancy is the first wild koala to ever be monitored from the beginning of his life without a collar. Clancy is an anomaly in that most wild koalas want nothing to do with humans and keep great distances between themselves and us. This research method is truly revolutionary. Previous methods used to study koalas were intrusive and interrupted koalas’ natural behaviors; tracking collars and radios required capturing and releasing the animals.

The intrusiveness of previously studying koalas was a point of concern for many researchers and conservationists. Koalas are extremely sensitive by nature, and they can become easily stressed, so yanking a koala from its habitat in the name of research wasn’t ideal.

Yet, there are worse things. Duffy’s seen a bush fire wipe out 90 percent of all the koalas she’d come to know on an intimate basis. It’s frightening to think about what another disaster could do to the already vulnerable koala population. That’s why Duffy’s research is as important as ever. After over two decades of observation, Duffy’s accumulated 19,000 photos and sketches of her koalas.

When Duffy wanted to tell the koalas apart, the key was right under her nose. She realized that every koala had unique pigmentation — almost like unique fingerprints — on their tiny noses. Duffy’s research is correct 93 percent of the time.

As reported in Global Post, the research has gotten the attention of a couple of academics. One of the academics, Jeffrey Skibins, says Duffy’s research could spark the same excitement as whale-watching where wildlife enthusiasts want to see koalas in their natural habitat. Her research might also play a role in creating koala database where koala movements can be tracked and monitored. Koala watchers can also submit their own koalas photos to help the database grow.

Duffy has faith that Australians will rally behind saving the koala before extinction becomes inevitable.

The Government Also Needs to Step Up and Save Koalas

Some Australians have already started. Darren Mewett was the gentleman responsible for dropping off a dead koala to the Redland City Council. As reported in the Brisbane Times, Mewett felt like he had no other choice. In the past year alone, he had already picked up two dead koalas, and nothing had been done and his “comments were not taken seriously.”

Debbie Pointing, the president of the Redland Koala Action Group, agrees. She said that the city need signs notifying residents that the koalas were in breeding season. The city’s temporary signs just aren’t enough. Concerned residents like Mewett and Pointing want to see more done in the best interest of the koala. Future city planning should take into consideration the koala’s well-being, “not just the landowners who want to sub-divide and make money.”

Unlike other animals, koalas can breed well in captivity. But is that really where we want to see koalas? I sure don’t. Then again, I don’t want to see them lying dead on the road like the koala that Australian fire crews revived. Koalas belong in the wild trees, away from us. Let’s hope that these aren’t the last group of Australia’s wild koalas.

For more ways to help koalas during Save the Koala Month, visit the Australian Koala Foundation to learn what more you can do.

Photo Credit: Marc Dalmulder

118 comments

Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 years ago

thanks for the article.

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Roslyn McBride
Roslyn M3 years ago

The size of Australia has nothing to with it - most of it is desert. Where koalas need to live, in order to eat, is being taken over by houses & roads, some are killed on the roads. Some run out of places where they can find food, others die in bushfires, & many now are dying from a very infectious disease. I would hate to see the end of the koala, who appeal to so many, & is a symbol of Australia, as is the kangeroo.

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william miller
william miller3 years ago

suerly the size of australia theirs room to save the koala

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Mark Donners
Mark Donner4 years ago

Australia has installed corporate planet rapers into power who defy their public and whose priority is profit over ethics. Australia's government nowadays has become about as insane and criminal as the Harper dictatorship of Canada. Queensland appears to be the worst area for the destruction of wildlife and wildlife habitat.

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jan macek
jan macek4 years ago

Difficult to tell other countries what to do with their wildlife, when the US is worst. We destroy wolves, mt. lions, bison, snakes etc etc etc.

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KAROLY MOLINARI
KAROLY Molinari4 years ago

You australian people bless your country by saving the koalas instead of killing them !!!!

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Lady Kaira
None None4 years ago

thanks

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Jennifer H.
Jennifer H4 years ago

Another case of money over environment. I hope that Australia will side with the Koala before it is too late.

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Teresa W.
Teresa W4 years ago

Horrible!

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Ruhee B.
Ruhee B4 years ago

As long as humans rule the world no other species is safe. Sadly Koala's join an endless list of animals soon to be wiped out due to humans!

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