Australia’s Environment Minister Tony Burke has declared the widely recognized marsupial as “vulnerable” in specific parts of the country including Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. Though conservationists called out for a nationwide listing of the species as “vulnerable”, there is still some success left as the clamor went up against lobbyists. In certain parts of Australia some populations of koala bears are better off than their counterparts in dubious locations.
The usual has threatened the non-human species in the past two decades. Habitat loss, disease, human expansion and so forth have contributed to a decline in the koala bear population especially the populations in Queensland and New South Wales.
Conservationists estimate that approximately 40% of the said populations has been decimated since the year 1990.
‘Official’ government estimates put the entire koala population around 200,000 while others including the Australian Koala Foundation estimate that there as few as 50,000 koala bears in the entire nation alone.
According to Deborah Tabart of the Australian Koala Foundation, the listing wasn’t nationwide for all koalas because of “the logging industry, the development industry and forestry” and their constant lobbying against the listing in the Senate.
Tabart also criticized the Australian government and Environment Minister Tony Burke regarding the koalas and the apparent lack of funds for both koalas and other species on the list of “vulnerable”:
From my point of view, I want to see the science. We hear that the Minister thinks there are 200,000 koalas in Australia. A lovely neat number and nearly double what the AKF estimates. Where did he get this figure?
The AKF also wants to know what has happened to the National Koala Conservation Strategy? The Minister in his press release, mentions funding $300,000 worth of research. I wonder who will get that money? And for what?
And finally, the kicker in any policy decision, where is the money? When a species is listed, there has to be funds for a Recovery Plan. It is concerning to me that a Recovery Plan for the koala at the Federal level has not been announced, and I suppose that is predictable, because the other 1700 species already on that list haven’t had that money either. The devil is probably in the detail and as the day progresses, we will know more. As I have said on many occasions, the system is broken.
The listing of koala bears as “vulnerable” does not put them in the category of “endangered”, however it does put them somewhat close.