From: BBC News via, Environmental Health News, More from this Affiliate
Published November 11, 2009 12:32 PM

Trouble Down Under: Koalas Could Face Extinction

Australia's koalas could be wiped out within 30 years unless urgent action is taken to halt a decline in population, according to researchers. Development, climate change and bushfires have all combined to send the numbers of wild koalas plummeting.

A recent survey showed the population could have dropped by more than half in the past six years. Previous estimates put the number of koalas at more than 100,000 - but the latest calculations suggest there could now be as few as 43,000.

In one area in northern Queensland estimated to have 20,000 koalas a decade ago, a team of eight people could not find a single animal in four days of searching.

As well as problems caused by deforestation, hotter, drier conditions attributed to global warming had reduced the nutritional value of their staple food, eucalyptus leaves, leading to malnutrition. Many have been killed by the sexually transmitted disease chlamydia.

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