Australia has listed the koala as a threatened species after it cars, dogs, disease and urban expansion endanger its habitat and safety.
Koala populations have faced growing threats in the past 20 years, with numbers dropping by 40 per cent in Queensland and by a third in New South Wales.
But in other parts of Australia, the koala is flourishing – to the point of overabundance – and has required control measures such as sterilisation.
The Australian Government has announced it will list the populations in New South Wales, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory as vulnerable, which will affect development in these areas.
“Koalas are an iconic Australian animal and they hold a special place in the community,” said Tony Burke, the environment minister.
“In Victoria and South Australia, koalas have actually been in such high numbers they’ve been eating themselves out of habitat. There’s what you call population control measures going on there … like sterilisation. But in places like NSW and Queensland, their numbers have been taking a massive hit.”
Koala numbers are believed to have been in the millions before the arrival of British settlers but are now estimated to vary from about 200,000 to as few as 43,515. Widespread hunting and slaughter of the animals for their furs in the early twentieth-century devastated the species.