Koalas aren’t in danger of extinction, but they’re getting close.
Fires are tearing across eastern Australia and hurting koalas’ habitats. It is unclear what the future holds for the species. Normally, during a fire, koalas climb higher into eucalyptus trees where they make their homes because flames wouldn’t typically reach the top of the trees.
Koalas are no stranger to bushfires, but recently, it has been a bit more catastrophic as dozens of fires are raging from Sydney to Byron Bay, incinerating houses, forest, and even marshland.
Images of burned and dying koalas have been making the rounds on the Internet, creating both concern and confusion. There are many claims of koalas going “functionally extinct,” but that is not true.
Although considered vulnerable to extinction – between 350 and a thousand koalas have been found dead so far – Chris Johnson, professor of wildlife conservation at the University of Tasmania, says that koalas are not going to go extinct “this fast.” However, they will continue to decline because of various factors, not one single factor. Those include land development, food degradation, drought, dog attacks and more.