KOALAS could be listed as an endangered species in some parts of Australia in the aftermath of the nation’s bushfire crisis, Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley has warned.
Announcing a $50m package to address the extraordinary loss of wildlife already this fire danger season, Ms Ley revealed koala populations would be reviewed by the Threatened Species Scientific Committee to determine whether the species’ vulnerable listing needed to be upgraded.
The government commitment comes as specialist wildlife rescuers continue to comb Kangaroo Island for injured or unharmed animals, with the island’s western half home to more than 25,000 koalas, Australia’s only chlamydia-free koalas.
Conceding it was too early to know the full impact of the bushfires, Ms Ley labelled the looming recovery efforts as an historic environmental challenge.
“We need to be guided by scientific experts in the field, by our national research bodies, the traditional owners who have managed this land over tens of thousands of years, our farmers whose passion and commitment to the land spans generations and our local communities,” she said.
A triage base has been established at the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park near Parndana – which was threatened by fire last Thursday – to treat wildlife, including koalas which would be unable to return to the island if treated on mainland South Australia due to strict quarantine measures.