Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 June 2019

Australia 'must act now to save koalas'

WWF warns leaders that the nation's iconic marsupial is at risk of extinction in some areas

Environmentalists have warned Australian leaders that the nation's iconic marsupial, the koala, is at risk of extinction due to high rates of deforestation.

The World Wildlife Fund said numbers of koalas were plummeting because its habitat was being destroyed at record levels for farming and development.

It said the eastern state of New South Wales was being hit hardest.

Most koalas are found there or in Queensland, but a recent WWF report warned there would be no koalas left in NSW by 2050 if land clearing continues at the current rate.

"It is getting extremely threatened and it is listed as vulnerable and we don't know what will happen, unless policies change, unless governments introduce new rules and regulations and support for farmers who want to preserve forest plots on their property," WWF International president Pavan Sukhdev said.

The WWF calls Australia a "global deforestation front," meaning a place where 80 per cent of global deforestation is projected to occur by 2030.

Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, meet a koala during a visit to Taronga Zoo in Sydney. AAP
Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, meet a koala during a visit to Taronga Zoo in Sydney. AAP

It's one of only 11 regions with that label across the world.

The loss of trees in Australia means koalas don't just lose their homes and food, but moving around more makes them more prone to risks like disease, predators, or man-made obstacles like roads.

Updated: February 17, 2019 10:54 AM