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Monday, June 24, 2024

Koalas are an iconic part of Australian culture, but a new study reveals that the country’s lack of koala protection may result in a dramatic loss of the population.

The University of Sydney recently published a study concerned with a massive loss of koalas in Australia due to climate change.

“The study led by Dr. Matthew Crowther seems quite sound, honing in on specific risks to koalas such as heat stress and dehydration,” said Karen Kainer, associate professor of tropical forestry at UF.

The current amount of shady trees, koalas’ main hideout from rising temperatures, isn’t enough to save them from extreme climate change, according to the study.

Crowther and his team followed 40 koalas, but a quarter died after a massive heat wave in 2009, according to the study.

The outcome of his research showed the koalas would use eucalyptus trees as a food source during the night and would seek shadier trees, like belah and kurrajong varieties, during the day.

The Australian Koala Foundation has called for the federal government to take action by listing the koala as vulnerable under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

The foundation also aims to create a true protection for the koala habitat.

The act, drafted in 1999, is the Australian government’s main environmental law, according to the Australian government’s website.

“Humans have a right to basic necessities, like food and shelter,” said Aline Yonezawa, a 20-year-old UF biomedical engineering senior. “Animals should have the same right.”

Deforestation has stirred a fear for these furry creatures due to the lack of trees the koalas have to protect themselves from intense heat.

Timber contractors are permitting the massive destruction of trees that results in a lack of food and shade, in addition to the injuring and deaths of koalas.

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“There could be more people who address the consequences of things like deforestation,” Yonezawa said. “We need to raise awareness.”

A version of this story ran on page 12 on 10/24/2013 under the headline "Koala bears hurt by heat"

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