The Australian Koala Foundation (AKF) has confirmed that due to the continuous population decline among koalas, they are now “functionally extinct.”
Functionally extinct means that the koala population has dropped so low that it no longer have any effect on its surrounding environment.
Koalas’ role is crucial for the environment. They helped Australia keep a balanced ecosystem and its forests healthy by “munching on tree leaves and fertilizing the ground with their droppings,” according to Metro UK.
AKF confirmed that there are only 80,000 koalas left in the wild and there are very few adult koalas who breed to support their whole species.
Due to climate change, heat waves kill thousands of koalas through dehydration. AKF also says there are no koalas left in 41 out of 128 known federal environments where they have their habitats, mainly because of deforestation.
Deborah Tabart, chairman of the Koala Foundation, plead the government and Australian prime minister to try and do something to help protect the poor animals.
“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, according to Metro UK. “The plight of the koala now falls on his shoulders.”
Koalas are listed as vulnerable in Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.