They’re grumpy, they’re fluffy, and they’re adored across the world. Koalas are one of Australia’s cutest exports, but now the marsupial has officially been declared ‘endangered’. Populations of the once-thriving creature have dropped dramatically, with land-clearing, bushfires and disease all to blame.
The new label means conservation of koalas will now become a priority in Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, where numbers are particularly low. Since 2012, the animals have been listed as ‘vulnerable’ – but officials have been accused of delaying helping them out.
An inquiry in New South Wales found that koalas could go extinct by 2050 unless immediate action is taken. It’s estimated the Black Summer bushfires of 2019 and 2020 killed more than 5,000 koalas, and it’s now thought there could only be 50,000 left in the wild – a drop of around 30 percent in three years.
It’s not all bad news, though. WWF Australia hopes that the Aussie government will be forced to act now the animals are officially recognised as endangered. If you want to find out how you can help, take a look at the charity’s official koala aid page.