Koalas Face Uncertain Future After an Estimated 1,000 Are Killed in Fires


As fires and drought wreak havoc across Australia, one of the country’s native marsupials is taking a huge hit in population. At least one group argues that koalas are now facing possible extinction.

Deborah Tabart, chairman of the Australia Koala Foundation, reported  more than 1,000 koalas have been killed, with 80 percent of their habitat devastated by recent bushfires.

She declared koalas “functionally extinct.”

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Many researchers, however, question her numbers, saying prior koala numbers weren’t exact. They also said estimating the numbers of those destroyed is difficult.

Functional extinction means the population is no longer viable, with current numbers unable to play a significant role in ecosystem function or reproducing a new generation.

The koalas’ biggest problem is the major loss of their main food source: the eucalyptus tree. One adult koala requires two pounds of eucalyptus leaves daily to meet nutritional needs. The trees take a long time to grow back after a fire. In the meantime, koalas face possible starvation.

Videos have also surfaced across social media of people risking their own lives saving koalas from actually burning to their deaths.


Now, people worldwide are pressuring the Australian government to intervene to save the treasured animals, as they donate to animal hospitals and rescue groups, like the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital. So far, over $1 million has been raised.

In 2016, the Koala Protection Act was written based on the U.S. Bald Eagle Protection Act, but it never passed into law. The act would protect against the destruction of eucalyptus forests and koala hunting.

Plans for the funds raised include fresh water drinking stations in affected areas and rehabilitation refuges for recovering koalas.

Fingers crossed, little guys. It would be a tragedy if koalas went away.