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Published May 2, 2012 06:19 AM

Australia lists koalas as 'vulnerable'

The koala has been listed as a threatened species in parts of Australia due to its shrinking population, according to officials.


One of Australia's most iconic marsupials, the koala is facing a range of threats, including habitat loss, urban expansion, dog attacks, vehicle collisions and disease. Its specialised diet of eucalyptus leaves confines it to quite specific habitats, while increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere may be reducing the nutrient content of the leaves it eats.

Climate change is also increasing the risk of drought and fires, with koalas being particularly vulnerable to bushfires as their slow movements and tree-dwelling lifestyle make it difficult for them to escape.
Although the koala’s exact population size is unclear, in New South Wales and Queensland its numbers are believed to have fallen by as much as 40% since 1990.

Under the new listing, koalas in Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory will be considered 'vulnerable' on Australia's national list of threatened species. Extra funding will be given to develop new survey methods for koalas and find out more about koala habitat.

Koalas via Shutterstock.

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