This writer is as wary as anyone about human propensity to fawn over cuddly creatures to the exclusion of the rest of the planet’s worthy plants and animals. (See earlier post “Survival of the Cutest.”) Despite such pragmatic tendencies, I draw the line at koalas. Awww, cute, cuddly koalas.
Now comes news that the Australian government has listed that country’s iconic marsupial as a threatened species in Queensland, New South Wales, and the Australian Capital Territory. According to the Australian Koala Foundation, there could be fewer than 80,000 remaining today, and possibly as few as 43,000. The government puts the figure at around 200,000.
The species is unique to its continent, but the dangers are familiar: “Koalas in some regions face increasing threats from urban expansion, disease, habitat loss, vehicle strike, and predation by dogs, and from their susceptibility to drought and climate change,” according to Australia’s Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.
Says Environment Minister Tony Burke: “We're talking about a species that is not only iconic in Australia, but is known worldwide, a species that has taken a massive hit over the last 20 years and we can't wait any longer before we turn the corner when the scientists are telling us the evidence is in."
Photo by iStock/eeqmcc
Reed McManus is a senior editor at Sierra. He has worked at the magazine since Ronald Reagan’s second term. For inspiration, he turns to cartoonist R. Crumb’s Mr. Natural, who famously noted: “Twas Ever Thus.”