Ecology professor Darryl Jones says there’s a very strong chance that the koalas in the Koala Coast may not exist anymore in 20 years.
KOALAS in Brisbane and Redlands’ bayside suburbs are at risk of extinction, a Griffith University ecology expert has predicted.
Professor Darryl Jones said nationally koala populations were safe but numbers in the Koala Coast were on a consistent downward trend.
“Unless something really does change, there’s a very strong chance that the koalas in the Koala Coast may not exist anymore in 20 years,” he said.
A $10 million Australian Koala Foundation habitat mapping project estimated there were 130-200 koalas in the Bonner electorate and 350-650 in Bowman, two integral electorates in the Koala Coast.
Koala sightings in Bonner paint an even grimmer picture, with 760 reported sightings in 1995 and only 70 in 2015.
The Australian Department of Environment media team directed the Herald to a website citing Queensland government population statistics for the Koala Coast, which estimated there were 2279 koalas in 2008, down 65 per cent from 6246 in 1996-1999.
AKF chief executive Deborah Tabart said Bonner’s koala population was “on its way to extinction”.
She called on federal MP Ross Vasta to support an Australian Koala Protection Act to ban any removal of habitat trees.
A spokeswoman for Mr Vasta said: “Ross applauds the Australian Koala Foundation’s commitment to protect existing koala habitat and he looks forward to seeing more details about the proposed legislation as they emerge.”
Prof Jones said the drastic contraction of the Koala Conservation Unit under the previous government had been a massive blow to the conservation of the marsupial.
He encouraged the new government to reinstate it.
A Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection spokeswoman said there would unfortunately continue to be deaths and injuries resulting from koalas living in and moving through urbanised areas.
She said EHP had contracted the University of Queensland to study the relative density of koalas in the eight local government areas of southeast Queensland.
They expect the results within this month.