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Koalas listed as 'vulnerable' in parts of Australia

Environment minister says koala populations are threatened by loss of habitat, urban expansion, dogs and disease.

Image: AP Photo/Russell McPhedran/PA

THE AUSTRALIAN government has listed koalas as “vulnerable” in parts of the country, adding them to a list of protected species.

Australia’s Environment Minister Tony Burke designated koala populations in Queensland, New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory as ‘vulnerable’.

Burke said the move was made in response to public concerns about the protection of the species and from scientific studies into koalas.

“My decision to list the koala under national environment law follows a rigorous scientific assessment by the Threatened Species Scientific Committee which gathered information from a variety of experts over the past three years,” the minister said.

“Koala populations are under serious threat from habitat loss and urban expansion, as well as vehicle strikes, dog attacks, and disease.”

The koala was not being listed nationally because koala populations vary so much across the country, he explained.

In pictures: koalas

Koalas listed as 'vulnerable' in parts of Australia
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  • Koalas

    Joel Barbara, keeper at Sydney's Koala Park holds "Kamara" and her two one yera-old babies, 2006. (AP Photo/Russell McPhedran/PA File)
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    Petra the koala is given medication after nasal surgery at Sydney Wildlife World, in Sydney 2008. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)
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    A 9-month-old baby koala, left, ventures from his mother at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in Cleveland, 2010. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)
  • Koalas

    A Koala nicknamed Sam, saved from the bushfires in Gippsland, being cared for at the Mountain Ash Wildlife Centre in Rawson, Australia, 2009.(AP Photo/PA File)
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    One of the koala's from the Koala Conservation Centre, Victoria, Australia walks along the fence in October 2008. (Sam Spruce/PA File)
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    A seven-month-old koala at Duisburg Zoo, Germany, 2011. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein/PA Images)

The Australian Koala Foundation welcomed the news, but said it hopes that the listing will be extended to include Victoria, where the foundation says the koala population is much less than the government estimates.

“There is good science to show that the koalas in Victoria have the same decline curve as their brothers and sisters in other parts of the country,” foundation director Deborat Tabart said. “This is a battle that is still to be fought.”

ABC News reports that the Urban Development Institute of Australia criticised the listing, saying it is a duplication of ‘green tape’ and would cause unnecessary delays to developers.

ABC also reports that though designated as a ‘vulnerable species’ in New South Wales, the listing provides no additional protection to the animals in areas logged by Forests New South Wales.

Here’s a slideshow of koalas from around the world >


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