The Australian government will bear an $18 million bill to protect the native species.
Following the devastating fires that tore across the country from the end of 2019 through to early 2020, the Australian government have announced a raft of measures to help the troubled marsupials. Alongside loss of habitat, in part caused by the fires, koalas are vulnerable to road accidents and domestic dog attacks.
According to the Australian Koala Foundation, there were less than 100,000 of the small mammals left in the wild, with estimates running as low as 43,000. An estimated 5,000 koalas died in the 2019-20 bushfires. In areas such as New South Wales koala populations were reduced by as much as 70%.
However, part of the problem in protecting koalas comes from a serious lack of data on where they are currently distributed and how many of them there are. To rectify this significant blindspot the Australian government have announced plans to conduct a national koala audit, costing $2 million (AUS). A range of methods will be implemented in order to conduct the audit, including drone and acoustic surveillance, detector dogs, citizen science surveys and scat monitoring.
The hope is that through a more thorough understanding of the koalas distribution and habitat usage, on-the-ground measures can be implemented to support the koala population’s rehabilitation, with the remaining $16 million earmarked for initiatives including health research, medical support and habitat restoration.