Australia bushfires caused thousands of koala deaths in New South Wales – report

Support us and go ad-free

At least 5,000 koalas died in the recent bushfires in New South Wales, Australia, in the latest blow to the marsupials, conservationists said.

An assessment of the animals in New South Wales estimates almost 12% of the state’s population perished in devastating fires from October to January – with a warning the real figure is likely to be higher.

The study for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (Ifaw) also warned that up to two thirds of the koala population has been lost in the past three generations due to drought, bushfires and human activity.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

Wildlife campaigners described the situation as a “koala emergency” and have called for urgent protection measures for the species, which is considered to be “vulnerable” to extinction.

They want New South Wales koalas to be given an emergency “endangered” listing to increase their protection.

Climate chaos and the wildfires it’s made worse pose an immediate, ongoing and significant threat of extinction to the koala population in the state, the report argues.

It comes after 5.1 million hectares (12.6 million acres) of land burned in New South Wales as bushfires ravaged swathes of Australia.

Josey Sharrad, IFAW wildlife campaigner, said: “Koalas were already living on the brink before these fires, with populations declining in many areas due to excessive land clearing, disease and roadkill and local extinctions already known to have occurred.

“This disaster and the ongoing nature of the threats could push koalas over the edge.

And she said: “This is a koala emergency.

“Koalas must be immediately uplisted to endangered on an emergency basis and a moratorium on all harmful activities impacting koalas enforced to allow surviving populations some breathing space while their capacity to recover is further assessed.”

Australia bushfires
The Grose Valley fire in the Blue Mountains area of Lithgow and Blackheath, New South Wales (MoD)

The analysis covered 15 weeks from 1 October 2019, to 10 January 2020, and is described as a “conservative” estimate.

The conservationists also warned that further assessment to cover the month to 10 February means final figures are expected to be even worse.

And they said the hundreds of thousands of hectares of habitat that is not burnt but had been rendered unsuitable for koalas as a result of dry conditions had not been taken into account.

Support us and go ad-free

Do your bit for independent journalism

Did you know that less than 1.5% of our readers contribute financially to The Canary? Imagine what we could do if just a few more people joined our movement to achieve a shared vision of a free and fair society where we nurture people and planet.

We need you to help out, if you can.

When you give a monthly amount to fund our work, you are supporting truly independent journalism. We hold power to account and have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence the counterpoint to the mainstream.

You can count on us for rigorous journalism and fearless opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right wing mainstream media.

In return you get:

  • Advert free reading experience
  • Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
  • 20% discount from our shop


The Canary Fund us