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Koalas Have Now Been Declared 'Functionally Extinct'

Koalas Have Now Been Declared 'Functionally Extinct'

A conservation group states that koalas's are on the verge of extinction, if nothing is done to save this dying breed of species.

According to the Australian Koala Foundation (AKF), the population of koalas has dropped to a dangerous level, so much so that they could soon join the Dodo league. With just 80,000 koalas remaining in the Australian continent, this particular species has been deemed "virtually extinct" by the AKF. They further stated that there were only a limited number of pairs remaining who cannot breed. In case they can, it's most likely that the offsprings would contract some sort of genetic disease due to their fall in number.



 

The AKF has declared these fluffy marsupials as "functionally extinct" reports PEOPLE. So, what drove these creatures to this grave extent? Three words:  climate change, disease, and deforestation. The Australian Koala Foundation states that these mammals have been facing the wrath of the rising temperature which has also given rise to heatwaves. Such degradation of climatic conditions paired with widespread deforestation has made these koalas victims of dehydration.



 

Unfortunately, only 41 of 128 known koala species remain in the federal environment. Such a reduction in their numbers is indeed a cause for serious worry. If an unknown genetic pathogen or disease finds its way into the system of these fluffy marsupials, it’s most likely that they would succumb to it and the remaining population would diminish rapidly. Due to these harsh and deadly fate of these koalas, several activists are begging people to do something in order to save the remaining koalas.



 

Deborah Tabart, the chairman of AKF also expressed her worry about these dying breed and said in a statement, "I know the Australian public are concerned for the safety of koalas and are tired of seeing dead koalas on our roads." Tabart further gives us an insight into the Koala Protection Act of 2016. "I am calling on the new prime minister after the May election to enact the Koala Protection Act (KPA) which has been written and ready to go since 2016," she said.



 

The Koala Protection Act has been prepared on the lines of the US Bald Eagle Act. This does give us some hope as the national symbol of America has been rescued from the verge of extinction and has made a comeback. The conservation methods proved to be pretty effective as it’s known as the greatest conservation story in North America. Back in the 1960s, there were less than 500 surviving bald eagles. However, the effort people put in towards getting the numbers back on track, their population rose to an overwhelming level.



 

Bob Sargent, a wildlife biologist told Fox News, "This species, our national symbol, since 1782, was on the brink of extinction and to see it come back the way it has, it’s an inspiring story all the way around." After a national wide count in 2009, the bald eagle's population was discovered to have increased to a level way higher than anyone had expected. According to the estimation of the US Fish and Wildlife Services, there were 16,048 existing pairs, this count shot up 30 times more than what it used to be years back.



 

Kenneth Jacobson with the Arizona Game and Fish Department said, "The bald eagle’s population growth in Arizona and across the nation is a testament to the successes of wildlife conservation efforts." Since 2007, this species of bird was removed from the Endangered Species List and the Koala activists wish the same for their beloved species. "The Bald Eagle Act was successful because there was a political motive to ensure their icon did not go extinct,” Tabart said informing us about the driving force that helped resuscitate the dying species. "It is time for the koala to be afforded the same respect," she added.



 

 

Australians often use koala's as a sign of representation and this famous symbol was also used as a mascot for the Commonwealth Games in Queensland, Australia, last year. This makes their survival all the more important given its popularity and love among resident Australians. Tabart further added, "After 31 years I have worked with Ministers Richardson, Kelly, Faulkner, Hill, Kemp, Campbell, Turnbull, Garrett, Burke, Butler, Hunt, Frydenberg, and
Price yet no support for the Koalas have been shown. I have heard every excuse under the sun to not step in and protect habitats. It is time they enacted the KPA and create change for our Koalas."

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