Koalas Face Extinction by Climate, Chlamydia?

Changing world strips diet-staple eucalyptus of nutrients
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 12, 2009 10:28 AM CST
A mother and baby koala are seen at the Sydney Wildlife World in Sydney, Australia.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – Australia's koalas face extinction as their population has been decimated by climate change and the loss of trees due to development and wildfires. Six years ago, they were thought to number more than 100,000; today, their count is as low as 43,000. Threats to their diet of eucalyptus leaves are part of the problem—“It's really no tree, no me,” an environmentalist says. Curiously, the BBC also reports that chlamydia has been responsible for many koala deaths.

Advocates hope to have the koala listed as an endangered species, but even the cuddly critter’s place in many Australians’ hearts doesn’t appear to be of any help. The nation’s endangered species organization won’t consider the animal’s plight until next year, and dispassionately, at that. “We’d consider the koala with the same level of diligence and dedication as if it were a death adder,” an official says.