“Functionally Extinct” Koalas Have Lost 80% of Their Habitat in Australia’s Wildfires

December 6, 2019 at 9:15 pm

Australia’s wildfires have killed tens of thousands of already endangered koala’s, rendering them “functionally extinct” to one wildlife organization

Record-breaking drought and wildfires in Australia have wiped out 80% of the already limited koala habitat in just two months, according to the Australian Koala Foundation.

“If we combine all of the estimated deaths of koalas in the bush-fires, there could be 1,000 koalas that have been killed in the last two months,” Chairwoman of the Australian Koala Foundation Deborah Tabart told the Daily Mail. last month.

A month later and the number is well over 30,000, with 25,000 killed on Kangaroo Island alone.

The death toll is expected to rise as it will take months for the animals’ primary food source – eucalyptus trees – to start growing back, leaving many to starve and dehydrate.

Earlier this year, the foundation declared koala’s “functionally extinct”.

The organization estimated there were no more than 80,000 koalas left in the wild last spring, down from 330,000 just three years earlier.

Deforestation is the primary culprit in the rapid population collapse, the foundation says.

Interestingly, deforestation may also be responsible for the brush fires currently ravaging Australia.

Deforestation typically leads to drought, which leads to dry brush, which leads to wildfires, as this Science Magazine article explains.

But there’s hope for the beloved little marsupials yet. The wildfires have put the plight of the koalas in the spotlight.

A viral video of a woman running into the bush to rescue a stranded koala – smothering the flames with the shirt off her back and dousing him with her water bottle – has helped raise over a million dollars for rehabilitation efforts.

A Go Fund Me campaign asking for $25,000 to help cover hospitalization and treatment costs for injured koalas has raised almost $2 million.

Because of all of the extra funds, the campaign is building automatic drinking stations throughout the koalas’ burnt habitat to help keep surviving koalas hydrated.

“Donations have now reached an incredible amount and we are extending the project to establish a wild koala breeding program.”

The more donations that come, the more koalas will be saved and the greater their chance of survival. DONATE HERE.