Koalas Crawling Slowly Toward Endangered Status

Koalas Crawling Slowly Toward Endangered Status

The Australian Government is Dragging on Making a Declaration

Koalas are about the cutest animal alive and they’re now heading into troubled territory. Conservations are at odds with the Australian government over its reluctance to declare koalas endangered. With wildfires the main cause of habitat destruction, drought is a secondary issue. This foot-dragging seems to be because populations are thriving in some areas. In Southern Australia, the marsupials are listed as “rare,” while they have made it to the “vulnerable” list in New South Wales and Queensland.

Their picky feeding habits are part of the reason they’re in trouble. They prefer a particular type of eucalyptus species out of several hundred. Sleeping a total of about 20 hours each day gives their slow metabolism time to digest the fibrous leaves of choice.

Seeing a koala up-close is a real treat. On an extended stay in Australia, we had a chance to visit the Australian Reptile Park near Sydney. Keepers bring koalas out among the visitors, perching them carefully on fence posts. Touching the soft fur and watching their little hands reach out is unforgettable. One interesting fact: their rib cages are almost paper-thin and can break easily. They must be handled with extreme caution as the lightest squeeze can cause damage.

Unfortunately, wild koalas arrive at Taronga’s animal hospital on a regular basis. As they migrate into populated areas to escape the destruction, they are hit by vehicles or are attacked by dogs and other animals. The Australian Koala Foundation (AKF) is working diligently to change the koala’s status. Fortunately, the U.S. agrees, and is already noting koalas as endangered. In other parts of the world, however, they are listed as “of no consequence.”

Photo public domain