Experts warn koalas are 'functionally extinct'

Riddled with chlamydia and dying from climate change, experts warn Australia's koalas are now "functionally extinct".

Functionally extinct means the koala population has fallen so low that they no longer have a significant role in the ecosystem.

According to the Australian Koala Foundation (AKF), there are no more than 80,000 koalas left in the country - and this number is falling.

"Since 2010, the AKF has monitored the 128 federal electorates that fall within the range of the koala and it is shocking that 41 electorates have no koalas; they are extinct,"  it says.

Koalas numbers have been drastically reduced by hunting and habitat loss due to pollution, farming, urban development, and deforestation.

They're also suffering from climate change, with increasing numbers of heat waves, droughts and forest fires.

With their homes being destroyed, koalas are flocking to unfamiliar territory and are getting hit by cars, being attacked by dogs and suffering from stress-related diseases like chlamydia.

The AFK is demanding politicians take action to save koalas and their habitat by passing the Koala Protection Act, which prohibits killing, selling or possessing them, as well as protecting the eucalyptus trees the species lives on.

"I am calling on the new Prime Minister after the May election to enact the Koala Protection Act (KPA) which has been written and ready to go since 2016. The plight of the koala now falls on his shoulders," chairperson Deborah Tabart said in a statement.

"I know the Australian public are concerned for the safety of koalas and are tired of seeing dead koalas on our roads. It is time for the Government to respect the koala and protect its habitat.

"Our tourist icon is ready to leave and no, zoos are not the answer. Saving their habitat is."


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