Koala facing extinction in parts of Queensland

Posted on May 7, 2016 12:22 am

A report released in August last year showed koala population in southeast Queensland had dropped by up to 80 per cent in some areas between 1996 and 2014.This means that huge swathes of koala populations are facing imminent extinction.The figures show a catastrophic population crash in the past 20 years in south east Queensland’s Koala Coast and Pine Rivers regions.The South East Queensland Koala Population Modelling Study review by University of Queensland, which covered close to 10,000 square kilometres, revealed that more than 80 per cent of the koala population has disappeared on the Koala Coast, in and around Brisbane, since 1996, the report found.It found the koala population had declined by an estimated 80 per cent in the seven local government areas making up the Koala Coast Moreton Bay, Noosa, Ipswich, Brisbane, Redland, Logan and the Gold Coast. The researchers estimated the Pine Rivers population had also crashed by more than half.“The rapid declines in koala densities in the Koala Coast and Pine Rivers indicate populations in considerable danger and there is a risk that it may be too late to stabilise or recover these populations,” the 88 page report said.It also found more than 50 per cent had disappeared in the Pine Rivers region north of Brisbane during the same period.

A female Koala in Queensland
A female Koala in Queensland.Picture by Justin Berry

“There are already a number of areas in which koalas, on the Koala Coast, are at such low densities that they are effectively extinct,” the study found. “It appears the loss of koalas from many sites there is imminent.” The report’s lead author, University of Queensland Associate Professor Jonathan Rhodes, said habitat loss, disease and dog attacks continued to threaten the population in and around built-up areas.”There may be some tough decisions we need to make about where we prioritise the protection of koalas,” he said.Professor Rhodes suggested authorities might need to concentrate on saving animals that still have a chance, such as those in regional areas.”If there are populations we really cannot do anything about, we should acknowledge that and focus on the populations where we can have success,” he said. The report has warned there was evidence the population was shrinking faster over time and the “declines may well be indicative of patterns of population decline more broadly” across the state’s south-east.Nine months after receiving the report, the state department in charge of environment in Queensland has flagged a plan to establish an expert panel to point policy in the right direction.They believe it’s time for an honest conversation with policymakers but also the public about what we think it will take to protect koalas.Queensland alternative is doing what other governments have done, proclaim a solution then realise it’s not working.The state need to determine some new action and it’s very much its intention to begin that in months not years.

Contador Harrison