Thing of the past? Experts fear Australia's iconic koala could go extinct by 2050

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Jun 30, 2020, 10.05 PM(IST) Edited By: Palki Sharma

Representative images Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

The New South Wales authorities are now faced with a big challenge.

It was feared that the Australian bushfires had killed at least 350 koalas. Turns out,  it was a gross underestimation. At least 5000 koalas died during the recent Australian bushfires. The disaster also dragged the iconic Australian animal in the queue for extinction.

Also read: Habitat loss in an Australian state may drive koalas to extinction by 2050

Koalas may soon be a thing of the past. Experts say the bears will disappear from the state of New South Wales by 2050. The bushfires destroyed at least 24 per cent of their habitat. In some parts-- 80 per cent of their homes were gutted.

New South Wales opposition environment minister, Penny Sharpe said: "The environment groups told us that it could be as low as 15,000, across the state. So this is desperate times."

The New South Wales authorities are now faced with a big challenge.

How do you create homes for the surviving koalas?

Also read: Double pandemic? Experts believe new swine flu in China could wreak havoc if left unchecked

The fuzzy animals need a lot of space to live in. About a hundred trees per animal, Australia's shrinking woodlands are not helping this cause.

The bushfires cannot alone be blamed for putting these animals at risk. Their numbers began plummeting in the late 20th century.

Koalas were being hunted for their fur. They were listed vulnerable in New South Wales in 1992.

What followed was habitat destruction, domestic dog attacks, bush fires and road accidents.

What did the authorities do about these?

 According to a parliamentary committee report, "at every turn, we were handed evidence that showed our current laws are inadequate and facilitating the clearing of core koala habitat."

2050 is less than 30 years away. New South Wales would have to race against time if it wants koalas in its forests and protect them from further bushfires.