Australia says the koala is now endangered species

Animal’s status unclear with international authorities.

Updated: February 12, 2022 - 6:31pm

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The Australian government has officially declared the koala an endangered species, though it's unclear if the ruling is shared by international conservation authorities.

Australian Environment Minister Sussan Ley announced Friday that the government is "taking unprecedented action to protect the koala, working with scientists, medical researchers, veterinarians, communities, states, local governments and Traditional Owners."

"Today I am increasing the protection for koalas in [New South Wales], the [Australian Capitol Territory] and Queensland, listing them as endangered rather than their previous designation of vulnerable," Ley said. 

The koala's status as endangered is unclear in a broader context. The International Union for Conservation of Nature, whose ratings on the status of animal species are among the most popular in the world, had on Friday still listed the koala as "vulnerable." 

Incidents such as drought and brush fires have drastically reduced the koala population in Australia in recent years, with numbers dropping as much as 50% in some cases.

The Australian government is directing over $74 million AUD to fund its koala conservation efforts.

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