Thursday, February 16, 2012

Australia Koalas under Threat

(CNN) -- The Australian government has angered koala conservationists by again delaying a decision on whether to add the national icon to the country's endangered species list.

Last year, a Senate inquiry into the status, health and sustainability of Australia's koala population heard that there could be as few as 43,000 koalas left in the country.

Millions have been killed since the arrival of European settlers in the 18th century. Numbers were slashed again during open hunting seasons in the early 20th century and in recent decades tens of thousands have died as a result of habitat destruction, disease -- including Chlamydia and retrovirus -- and dog attacks.

On average, four koalas are admitted every week to Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, the country's largest wildlife hospital, after being hit by cars. The animals are also vulnerable to bushfires and drought. Read More