Are Australia’s koalas going extinct? We asked an ecologist.

Are Australia’s koalas going extinct? We asked an ecologist.


You know when people think about climate
change a wildlife, they probably think about polar bears and maybe the Great
Barrier Reef. Well, we can add koalas to them now. “As many as 3 percent of the
country’s New South Wales region may have been killed as fires continue to ravage and
destroy their habitat.” The reality is that these flies are not normal. We’re in
a war zone. So I know that there’s there’s been you know loss of human life
definitely loss of property here but what impact has this fire had, this
fire season had, on wildlife in Australia? Well over 1 billion animals are thought
to have died or will soon die in the weeks, the months ahead, because of the
current fires. That’s 1 billion. And we’ve never had a toll like that on our
wildlife but it seems that every few days, the statistics get worse. I don’t
know where it will end by the end of this fire season. Are there specific species
that are particularly being hard hit by this? Many many animals cannot flee these big
fires. Either they can’t fly, they can’t move quickly, they can’t burrow — they burn to
death. Particularly because Australia has bulldozed half of our forests, it’s hard
for wildlife to flee somewhere else and that’s why you find a lot of animals
— including koalas — are wandering into people’s backyards into the streets
looking for some habitat to survive in. When they panic, they climb up a tree.
That works when the fires low down. But it’s almost a death sentence when the
fire consumes its crown fire, the canopy fire. People have talked about flames up
to 200 feet in the air. That’s 70 meters. I mean that is — our trees
generally don’t grow that big. So any wildlife, birds, or lizards that
go to the top of the trees to escape a normal fire, they’re sitting ducks really. So I’ve seen a lot of particularly hard to watch videos of koalas, you know,
basically charred from the fire. Are they gonna go extinct after
this? What’s the status of the koala now, and what’s gonna happen to them? Our estimation is that koala numbers over the last 230 years have
fallen by about 95%, and these fires will be inching that up towards ninety eight
ninety nine percent over time. It’s important to remember that this bushfire
and the climate crisis — it has come after a couple hundred years of
decimating koalas and their habitat. So for 100 years,
koalas were shot for their pelts and there’s records of 8 million koala
pelts being sold in the United States, the UK, and I think Europe up until the 1930s,
when there was a moratorium put on shooting koalas. The term “functionally
extinct” has been thrown around in the media during these fires in reference to
the koalas. What does “functionally extinct” mean, and is that true? The term “functional extinction” is used for animals where there are only tens
or hundreds not even thousands of animals left. So rhinos, or animals where
there’s ten or twenty left. We’re not there yet for koalas. In eastern
Australia koalas are listed as a threatened species but at the lowest
level they’re called vulnerable. We think they’re now eligible to be uplisted to
being an endangered species. There are solutions to these problems, koalas and
polar bears don’t need to go extinct. And the term “functional extinction” doesn’t
help that. For people like me at home like watching this heart-wrenching
footage, is there anything we can do to help the situation? I think the first
thing people can do around the world is to read up about what’s happening in
Australia, because if it’s happening in our country, if it’s not already happening in
your country, it will be in the future, of some type, as the climate gets worse
and worse. We need to convince people who don’t care about nature or the climate
— particularly decision makers, governments, presidents, prime ministers —
you have a role in helping keep these species alive.

100 comments

  1. Since September, Australia's wildfires have burned through an area larger than Portugal. Read more about the devastation and what you can do to help: http://bit.ly/2QTKd7C

  2. horrid climate change we need to change and sort this out……..the animals are stuggling and dying not us :"( ………we.are.gonna ruin our world …..

  3. 3:18 honestly the best thing is to reduce your meet and dairy intakes…. they not only contribute with greenhouse gases but also most of the forest being destroyed is to make room for cattle production. It could be so much easier to defeat the climate crisis with this change

  4. The bulk of population decrease in Australia is due to deforestation for pastoral use on the East Coast, then there is the mindless urban sprawl. The irony is so many people surprised by native animal decline are living in once thriving koala habitat which was bulldozed for their charming house and lawn package in the burbs…

  5. What has happened is unprecedented and a tragedy but was not unexpected. Our government continues to downplay the effects of climate change with some in the Liberal government denying its existence, ignoring warnings leading up to the fires and continuing to destroy our environment with their negligence. We need leadership in this climate crisis and our current government has their head in the sand and their interests firmly centred with fossil fuel companies.

  6. Well how about A VOLCANIC ERUPTION IN MEXICO AND PHILIPPINES JUST HAPPENED?!

    Mexico – Jan 9 2020 eruption
    Philippines – Jan 12 2020 eruption

  7. 🐨 koalas have to survive and we need to help them, donations help alot, and the government needs to start caring for life, I'm moving to Australia I feel the need to be there helping.

  8. My heart goes out to Aussie scientists they keep telling us things like this but the morally bankrupt government just keeps destroying the ecosystem

  9. It's sad that Australians are still one of the biggest exporters of coal and liquified natural gas, yet they're not doing anything about it because everyone's happy when they're getting rich from the profits. As someone with Australian citizenship and lots of family over there, I can't agree with donating money to the wildfire cause. The money should be coming from the government and the big coal exporters.

  10. Why is no one talking about the fact that those fires were caused by humans. Namely oil corporations that by digging out the oil release certain chemicals into the atmosphere which in turn result in climate change

  11. Hope climate change does become the main issue everywhere
    Hope Australia learns the lesson and stop Adani with his coal business
    Hope Indians wake up and ask the govt to take environmental issues seriously rather than Hindu Muslim debates

  12. "Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country"

    And right now Australia is all of ours country.

    It's not enough that we watch these videos and feel sad. We must help out as we can. People can rebuild their homes. They can drill new wells, plant new crops, survive. They can understand the devastation, they can rationalize.

    The animals can not.

    They are left with nothing. No habitat, no shelter, no food, no water.

    Thousands of Australians have opened their homes to these desperate creatures, giving what little some have left of their own to save as many of these poor animals as they can. But what happens when it is time to release them back into the wild? Where do these animals go? Where do they live? How do THEY survive?

    PLEASE give what you are able to give to help these helpless creatures. There are many reputable organizations out there desperate for our help. Look around, they are easy to find.

    Give up your Starbucks for a week. Don't go to the movies this weekend. If you can donate 5 dollars, then donate 5 dollars. Every little bit helps! Just sending prayers and good wishes over the internet is meaningless. They need our real help. WE are their ONLY hope for survival.

    Please, give ANYTHING you can!

  13. U can help too! Start by civil action by recycling, reusing, advocating, and voting for carbon tax! Or other international changes !

  14. For thousands and thousands of years species have come and gone on this planet, what is it with humans thinking they can change nature. What're you saving these animals from, nature? No, you're saving them from human error, logic would dictate you start with the root cause, humans.

  15. Just want everyone to know that the "100+ arsonists" is in fact a myth, please do your research before spreading misinformation

  16. Idk if I’m the only one thinking this, but AFTER all of this, the vegetation is gonna grow back heckin’ hard because of the fire

  17. Fire was deliberately set to usher in NWO!!weaponized weather warefare!!😢😭its not arsonist or climate change!!watch utube called aplanetruth 4u or mike morales

  18. Would have been much better if people spread this animals around the globe in different forest/ecosystems and not just lock them up in zoos. I know if animal goes endanger zoos would get more profit/visitors from that.

  19. It isn't because of climate change they created fires to push the agenda they will go to extreme lengths to push it we saw this happen back during 911

  20. Idc if ur Republican or Democrat, but we all have to agree that should be a bipartisan issue that is endangering the planet and human life… all bc of climate change that major governments are failing to acknowledge and address.

  21. Billions of animals are killed everyday, except it's for food… Its completely unnecessary in the Western world where we have plant based alternatives.

    Not saying don't care about Australia's animals but keep in mind this mass scale of suffering happens everyday just so people can have a burger, sandwich, etc. Not consuming animal products is the greatest thing an individual can do to limit their carbon footprint.

  22. Does koalas 🐨 can only live in Australia? Because I think a good project for ecologist is to introduce them to other climates like islands in the Caribbean and plant trees they can eat there so we don’t loose those gentle animals

  23. Let’s say that they are! ( hopefully not) then what????? Are we supposed to do the rain dance, or give millions to the greens ( to stop extinction) so that they can do a miracle????

  24. So what? It's just another animal gone, we humans made the rest of the 200 million-something species before the Koalas go extinct! What's different about this?

  25. This misrepresents the facts a lot. In Queensland and New South Wales habitat fragmentation and dog attacks are severely affecting their numbers, but in South australia and victoria their Numbers are very strong.
    In the Adelaide hills with they are not native but have been introduced, they are very common, and on kangaroo island their population was 50,000 a number so high that they often out ate their food supply. The fire on kangaroo Island may have killed up to half of the population, but once the rains come the forest will bounce back and the population with have ample food to recover on. The total Koala population is still around 300,000.

    Also functional extinction mean when a species is no longer common enough to play it's part in the ecosystem, Koalas are not functionally extinct.
    As for the 10 million population estimate, that doesn't seem plausible given that they still occur over most of their Original range and their populations where not very dense due to their dietary requirements.

    Get your news from somewhere more reliable than VOX, like the ABC (australia)

  26. How can you say anything about climate change when there were over a hundred 100 people arrested for arson, how many were muslims. Don't you dare use this time to spread your garbage .

  27. What can individuals do to help? They can STOP voting for populist, neo-conservative political parties. Problem solved!

  28. Breaks my ❤ for the wild life if I could I would try to save them all idc if I cought on fire at least it would of known I did a good thing please save them they need to be saved

  29. They have got the H.A.A.R.P machine………but they are still not creating a drop of water in sky……….But when things comes to controlling normal citizens and triggering extinction of these poor animals……they can ignite , entire nation in fire.

  30. Yes they are…… One island alone has seen almost all of their 80,000 koalas died. This is disgraceful and the world must act.

  31. It’s times like these where you really gotta praise people like the Irwin family for doing what they can about this, Steve would be so proud.

  32. A video was shown at around 1:50 of a koala being given water via water bottle! This is very dangerous and can result in water entering the lungs of the koala which can be fatal!! Koalas should be given a bowl of water to drink from because they need to drink water at their own pace!!

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