Queensland’s koala population has dropped by more than one third since 2018, according to alarming new figures released by the Australian Koala Foundation (AKF).
The wildlife conservationists have estimated there could be as few as 6,455 of the iconic marsupials left across the state.
Three years worth of AKF data has revealed that koala numbers fell from between 19, 150 and 10,090 to between 12,085 and 6,455.
AKF Chair Deborah Tabart said the devastating 2019-20 bushfires were certainly a contributing factor.
“We have witnessed a drastic decrease in inland populations because of drought, heatwaves, and lack of water for koalas to drink,” she said in a Courier-Mail report.
“I have seen some landscapes that look like the moon, with dead and dying trees everywhere.
“Urgent action to stop land clearing in prime koala habitat is required if we are to save our beloved national animal from peril.”
Queensland isn’t the only state to be impacted by these statistics, with an estimated overall 30 per cent decline in koalas across the nation. Currently, NSW suffers from the largest koala population loss at 41 per cent, with the ACT on par with Qld at 37 per cent.
Last year’s bushfires ran rampant across Australia, leaving devastation in its wake for both humans and wildlife. In November 2020, the Bureau of Meterology (BOM) warned Australians that there would be hotter days and longer, more severe bushfires.
And they weren’t wrong. The bushfires destroyed Australia’s iconic wildlife and nature.
Bushfires aren’t the only cause for concern when it comes to the decline in koala populations, with land clearing and mining being a major ongoing issue.
“Land clearing is lethal to koala populations,” Tabart said.
“Over the past few years, we have seen huge land clearance particularly across New South Wales and south-east Queensland, for farming, housing development and mining.”
Nearly one third of the koala population in central Queensland’s Flynn electorate were wiped out due to mass land clearing.
Lone Pine Wildlife curator Frank Mikula said he was unsurprised by the figures.
“Not a lot has changed over the past few years in terms of the threats they are facing,” he said.