Koalas have been labeled as being functionally extinct with the species' numbers now down to an estimated 80,000 in the wild.
When topics such as climate change and how we have negatively affected the planet are discussed, we normally talk about the dangers to ourselves. However, a lot of the damage we have done and continue to do has drastically affected the planet's other species. Some in such a big way that they no longer even exist.
A species of animal native to Australia but known around the world is now at a great risk of that happening to them. The koala. Metro reports that the iconic animal is now "functionally extinct." The Australian Koala Foundation made the declaration while also revealing that koala numbers have dropped to less than 80,000 in the wild.
So what does all of this mean? How can an animal be functionally extinct? Well, what it effectively means is there aren't enough koalas left in this current generation to successfully start a new one. That there are too few breeding adults left to support the species. All it could take is one disease and koalas could go from being functionally extinct to actually extinct.
So what's being done about this? Seems as if it would be pretty defeatist to just sit back and watch that 80,000 number slowly dwindle down to zero. Chairman of the Koala Foundation, Deborah Tabart has called for the Australian Prime Minister to step in. Apparently, something called the Koala Protection Act has been ready to go since 2016. Tabart quite rightly points out that the act needs to be put in place now before it's too late.
The potential extinction of an entire species isn't only an incredibly sad possibility to contemplate, but koalas also have a significant effect on Australia's ecosystem. Since their diet is made up entirely of tree leaves, they fertilize the forest floors with their droppings. Despite being labeled functionally extinct, hopefully by acting now, the nation of Australia can save the koala from disappearing altogether.