Koalas At Risk Of Becoming Extinct In New South Wales In Our Lifetime
Koala bears living in New South Wales, Australia, are said to be at risk of extinction ‘in our lifetimes’.
In the past few years, the marsupials have had to fend off devastating bushfires, drought, the destruction of their natural habitats and chlamydia infections – all of which have hugely contributed to the decline of the koala bear population.
Back in June, Australia’s government issued a report that warned koala bears could be extinct in New South Wales as soon as 2050.
Morgan Philpott is an Australian paediatric nurse who cares for unwell koalas during his spare time. With some encouragement from his daughter, he joined Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service (WIRES), Australia’s biggest animal rescue agency.
Philpott was recently helping treat a koala who had been rescued after suffering the ill effects of being infected with chlamydia. If untreated, the bacterial infection can cause conjunctivitis, which can lead to blindness or – just like in humans – urinary tract infections and infections of the reproductive organs that can lead to female infertility.
‘They really run the risk of becoming extinct inside our lifetime,’ he told Reuters.
Last year, the devastating bushfires ravaged more than 27 million acres of land, killing at least 5,000 koalas in New South Wales.
As the country prepares to enter another summer, koalas face the potential of more bushfires, which Philpott warned could see the end of the species.
‘If the areas that didn’t burn last year burn this year, that would really be catastrophic. Future fires could spell the end of them,’ he said.
Fortunately, though, weather forecasters have predicted that this summer will be wetter and cooler than previous years, which everyone would hope to be enough to fend off the fires for another year.
The endangerment of koala bears has caused a political divide in the country after new state laws in New South Wales set out to try and limit farmers’ abilities to clear koala habitats.
Kellie Leigh, who works as head of Science for Wildlife at a conservation organisation, said:
The rate of tree-clearing and loss of habitats are behind all of the other factors that threaten them in those developed areas which include domestic dog attacks and vehicle strikes.
Other factors, such as the urbanisation of densely populated cities, have also been blamed for creating demand to clear forests in order to create new homes.
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