Canberra: Australian Minister of Environment Sussan Ley on Monday warned that koalas could be listed as an endangered species as a result of the devastating bushfires that have killed thousands of the animal.
Ley and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on Monday announced A$50 million ($34 million) in funding to support species affected by the bushfire crisis, reports Xinhua news agency.
Ley told the media that koala populations have suffered an “extraordinary hit” from the fires, declaring that the iconic native Australian species could be officially listed as “endangered”.
Koalas have been considered “vulnerable” since 2012 but Ley said that the Threatened Species Scientific Committee, which manages the status of all species in Australia, could soon downgrade it.
Experts fear that half of the 50,000 koalas that live on Kangaroo Island in South Australia, one of the hardest hit by the bushfires, have perished in the blazes. Australian authorities were dropping tonnes of food from helicopters for animals who were starving as a result of the destruction of their habitat. (IANS)