Articles, Blog

Are Australia’s koalas going extinct? We asked an ecologist.

January 16, 2020

You know when people think about climate
change a wildlife, they probably think about polar bears and maybe the Great
Barrier Reef. Well, we can add koalas to them now. “As many as 3 percent of the
country’s New South Wales region may have been killed as fires continue to ravage and
destroy their habitat.” The reality is that these flies are not normal. We’re in
a war zone. So I know that there’s there’s been you know loss of human life
definitely loss of property here but what impact has this fire had, this
fire season had, on wildlife in Australia? Well over 1 billion animals are thought
to have died or will soon die in the weeks, the months ahead, because of the
current fires. That’s 1 billion. And we’ve never had a toll like that on our
wildlife but it seems that every few days, the statistics get worse. I don’t
know where it will end by the end of this fire season. Are there specific species
that are particularly being hard hit by this? Many many animals cannot flee these big
fires. Either they can’t fly, they can’t move quickly, they can’t burrow — they burn to
death. Particularly because Australia has bulldozed half of our forests, it’s hard
for wildlife to flee somewhere else and that’s why you find a lot of animals
— including koalas — are wandering into people’s backyards into the streets
looking for some habitat to survive in. When they panic, they climb up a tree.
That works when the fires low down. But it’s almost a death sentence when the
fire consumes its crown fire, the canopy fire. People have talked about flames up
to 200 feet in the air. That’s 70 meters. I mean that is — our trees
generally don’t grow that big. So any wildlife, birds, or lizards that
go to the top of the trees to escape a normal fire, they’re sitting ducks really. So I’ve seen a lot of particularly hard to watch videos of koalas, you know,
basically charred from the fire. Are they gonna go extinct after
this? What’s the status of the koala now, and what’s gonna happen to them? Our estimation is that koala numbers over the last 230 years have
fallen by about 95%, and these fires will be inching that up towards ninety eight
ninety nine percent over time. It’s important to remember that this bushfire
and the climate crisis — it has come after a couple hundred years of
decimating koalas and their habitat. So for 100 years,
koalas were shot for their pelts and there’s records of 8 million koala
pelts being sold in the United States, the UK, and I think Europe up until the 1930s,
when there was a moratorium put on shooting koalas. The term “functionally
extinct” has been thrown around in the media during these fires in reference to
the koalas. What does “functionally extinct” mean, and is that true? The term “functional extinction” is used for animals where there are only tens
or hundreds not even thousands of animals left. So rhinos, or animals where
there’s ten or twenty left. We’re not there yet for koalas. In eastern
Australia koalas are listed as a threatened species but at the lowest
level they’re called vulnerable. We think they’re now eligible to be uplisted to
being an endangered species. There are solutions to these problems, koalas and
polar bears don’t need to go extinct. And the term “functional extinction” doesn’t
help that. For people like me at home like watching this heart-wrenching
footage, is there anything we can do to help the situation? I think the first
thing people can do around the world is to read up about what’s happening in
Australia, because if it’s happening in our country, if it’s not already happening in
your country, it will be in the future, of some type, as the climate gets worse
and worse. We need to convince people who don’t care about nature or the climate
— particularly decision makers, governments, presidents, prime ministers —
you have a role in helping keep these species alive.


  • Reply Vox January 14, 2020 at 9:31 pm

    Since September, Australia's wildfires have burned through an area larger than Portugal. Read more about the devastation and what you can do to help:

  • Reply Khondker Rifat Hossain January 15, 2020 at 10:37 pm

    We must save the Koala at any cost. Let us form a billion dollar fund to save these majestic animals

  • Reply Khalil Khalil January 15, 2020 at 10:42 pm

    Why do you guys even care, your not gonna do anything, I’ll be honest we gotta change something now or we can just get used to not caring

  • Reply Harold Flite January 15, 2020 at 10:47 pm

    The ecologist didnt mention the 40 people charged with lighting the fires, or the clamydia that koalas have…or South Australia is experiencing a koala boom atm. This guys a fraud and only telling one side of the story…dont be fooled

  • Reply Sexzessiv January 15, 2020 at 10:58 pm

    What's up with all the suggies? Are they in Danger too? 😥

  • Reply IMM January 15, 2020 at 11:00 pm

    I am sad now

  • Reply Katia F January 15, 2020 at 11:02 pm

    The Australian government isn’t gonna work on climate change at all!!!! I’m Australian, and whenever a prime minister brought in a climate change policy they got kicked out of parliament!!! (without us voting mind you)

  • Reply Reeve January 15, 2020 at 11:05 pm

    So mr. beasts campaign was basically just a bandaid and not neosporin

  • Reply TOP EXPLORE January 15, 2020 at 11:10 pm

    I wish the rich, powerful, famous, celebs insensitivity go to extinct😤 Not innocent animals😭

  • Reply TOP EXPLORE January 15, 2020 at 11:15 pm

    I wish the rich, powerful, famous celebs insensitivity go to extinct😤 Not innocent animals😭

  • Reply DeathYu125 January 15, 2020 at 11:35 pm

    Guys let’s drop all the boomers in Australia and reform the government and fix the world

  • Reply twitchy hooligan January 15, 2020 at 11:42 pm

    welp, time to cry.

  • Reply sleep is irrelevAnT January 16, 2020 at 12:11 am

    it’s so disappointing that people are willing to pay for new buildings to destroy wildlife, yet, when animals are going extinct, they’re silent.

  • Reply C00l_ K1d707 January 16, 2020 at 12:11 am

    I wish I was extinct

  • Reply rupi January 16, 2020 at 12:22 am

    What can us 470K viewers do to help?

  • Reply Bamwich January 16, 2020 at 1:14 am

    we get it, you use Mac OS….

  • Reply koala January 16, 2020 at 1:33 am

    I'm still alive

  • Reply Lucian Leesonja January 16, 2020 at 1:52 am

    Could you imagine if one billion humans died? It would be the worst mass extinction of people ever to occur.

  • Reply Jamal Al-Uqdah January 16, 2020 at 1:55 am

    Are Black Australians Extinct? I haven’t seen any Aboriginal Australians in any of the footage the last few weeks

  • Reply carbonite1999 now freezing a loved one near you! January 16, 2020 at 1:58 am

    Every time they say fire is not normal ,,wrong ,, half the land cleared ,,wrong ,, over grown bush ,,correct ,, mismanagement of fire mitigation,,correct ,, koala hunted today ,,wrong,, over payed scientists ,,correct,, A thing to remember koalas have been protected for many years and scientists have taken and spent millions and still endangered ! Why?

  • Reply N Ford January 16, 2020 at 2:07 am

    I am the Lorax
    I speak for the trees,
    Safe Australia,

  • Reply Jake Jones January 16, 2020 at 2:20 am

    Ecologist: Glad you asked.

  • Reply xrellikgr January 16, 2020 at 2:20 am

    Africa is also been on fire, but I don’t except the racists VOX news to care since the people burning there are not white…

  • Reply Synsious January 16, 2020 at 2:41 am

    Now that I’m thinking about we should be extinct

  • Reply Prince T January 16, 2020 at 3:10 am

    I can’t believe people did this. Yes climate change is a problem but to set it on fire so people would recognize climate change is just sick.

  • Reply rashidaq January 16, 2020 at 3:14 am

    West has plundered the human civilization and Gods creation and this lovely earth

  • Reply Alex Swander January 16, 2020 at 3:15 am

    The way the world is right now, the future doesn’t seem so promising.

  • Reply ZapTrap January 16, 2020 at 3:16 am

    Lazerbeam will be sad after hearing this

  • Reply Ace Smith January 16, 2020 at 3:16 am

    Extinction is just an unfortunate part of life that can happen. On the bright side, the human death toll is low.

  • Reply Ace Smith January 16, 2020 at 3:21 am

    Everyone who is complaining, go buy yourself a plane ticket to Australia and go help out the koalas. If you don't want to then stop.

  • Reply Mr Animator January 16, 2020 at 3:21 am


  • Reply Abraham Landaverde January 16, 2020 at 3:27 am


  • Reply Claire Zhou January 16, 2020 at 3:31 am

    The scariest thing is : will wealthy corporations and governments take actions against climate change and protecting wild animals.! .?? I don’t think they care… only money catches their interest.

  • Reply Kool K January 16, 2020 at 3:33 am

    Agent Smith said it best. "Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment; but you humans do not. … There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern… a virus."

    We have arsonist AND the effects of climate change causing this destruction. People wake up!!!

  • Reply inphrit January 16, 2020 at 3:38 am

    How did the fire start?

  • Reply Brasil acima de tudo !!! January 16, 2020 at 3:40 am

    Amazonia has diamonds and gold, Australia doesn't have

  • Reply Big Troglodyte January 16, 2020 at 3:43 am

    I get koala but why do people keep throwing polar bears they’re thriving

  • Reply reeeEeeEEE January 16, 2020 at 3:46 am

    Bushfires are a normal part of a functional ecosystem. But so is rain, and at some point, too much rain becomes a hurricane. Calling this a bushfire is an understatement. This is an inferno. This is catastrophic on a scale never seen before in Australia’s history. People need to know that what Australia is dealing with is different, its so much worse.

  • Reply M T January 16, 2020 at 3:47 am

    There goin instict because of iran nuke farts

  • Reply Slick Pickle January 16, 2020 at 3:48 am

    these smooth brained critters about to meet darwin

  • Reply Kool K January 16, 2020 at 3:49 am

    I'm donating.

  • Reply NiteX January 16, 2020 at 3:51 am

    o h f u c k

  • Reply Omega Man January 16, 2020 at 3:51 am

    These fires have to be really bad if they need help from overseas.

  • Reply Bryan Young January 16, 2020 at 3:55 am

    i love koalas <3

  • Reply Marsonthagenie January 16, 2020 at 3:57 am

    We really can help keep them alive and create history, 50 + years they’ll probably still talk about this and see how we helped and how we kept the animals alive and future species

  • Reply Corgster January 16, 2020 at 4:00 am

    This makes me feel depressed…..

  • Reply No subscribers challenge January 16, 2020 at 4:28 am

    Even if you don’t believe in a religion let’s pray for Australia 🇦🇺 👏🏾

  • Reply Ok Ok January 16, 2020 at 4:28 am

    The answer is yes and it’s the reality

  • Reply Derpy Flurp January 16, 2020 at 4:29 am

    Koalas will not go extinct we have Koalas in the zoo.

  • Reply Ir. Djonny Simarmata Msc January 16, 2020 at 4:30 am

    I prefer bear really..koala is zoo types

  • Reply Mr Poker Face January 16, 2020 at 4:42 am

    Well I mean survival of the fittest

  • Reply Awwskin January 16, 2020 at 4:52 am

    So sad

  • Reply Steve Harris January 16, 2020 at 4:53 am

    The greens are responsible

  • Reply #maxim #Max January 16, 2020 at 5:03 am

    climate change are hoax
    australian bushfire are man-made

  • Reply J Yogi January 16, 2020 at 5:14 am


  • Reply NuttyYT Official January 16, 2020 at 5:16 am

    200 Arsonists arrested for setting fire to Australia

    Politicians climate change

  • Reply J Yogi January 16, 2020 at 5:18 am

    Veganism is obviously the answer. The way we exploit animals for meat and dairy, clearing forests for farming.

    The role we have everyday is keeping meat off our plate!

  • Reply Daniel Leon January 16, 2020 at 5:35 am

    I hope we get on fire 🔥 one day. We the people are miserable. To earth life. Planet 🌎

  • Reply Freeatlast January 16, 2020 at 5:45 am

    If they are it be directly because of human activity in Australia

  • Reply Adrienne RB January 16, 2020 at 5:48 am

    Help the marsupials 😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭

  • Reply J B January 16, 2020 at 5:55 am

    But according to Australia's prime-minster Scott Morrison and the governing Liberal National Party coalition, climate-change is not real and not important … but economic growth, budget surprises, and fossil fuel industries profits is essential.

  • Reply JOKER January 16, 2020 at 6:34 am

    Australian bushfires are a natural occurrence, banksia and eucalyptus seeds only germinate after bushfires. By far the largest cause of koala deaths in Australia is it's high immigration rate pushing suburbs into koala habitats.

  • Reply Kylie Broadbent January 16, 2020 at 6:35 am

    Man, that onion ninja struck again………………… but only for a second

  • Reply cary ballad January 16, 2020 at 6:37 am


  • Reply Supreme Verdict January 16, 2020 at 6:40 am

    It's not climate change but China's orbital laser weapon! Weak up people!

  • Reply Kimm 65 January 16, 2020 at 6:48 am

    🥺To anyone who has watched this video; please, please, please donate to anyone of the charities or wildlife organizations that are desperately trying to ensure that Australia doesn't see any of their precious unique species of wildlife disappear from the face of the planet because of the devastation caused by the 2019-20 bushfires. Every cent counts no matter how large or small your contribution may be. And please don't limit your donation to NSW charities etc. alone. Victoria & other parts of Australia has nowhere near the amount that has already been contributed to the organizations based in NSW. It will be a long time before we can rest easy again knowing that our native animals & even our live stock are out of danger from injuries caused by the fires & the starvation & loss of habitat that is already apparent & will only worsen. This isn't something that affects Australians alone, it affects the whole world. It's an entire eco system thrown into chaos so don’t just talk about how bad you feel for these animals, do something. Do anything. Just help because Australia can't do it alone.🥺

  • Reply kris korving January 16, 2020 at 6:58 am


  • Reply Xx Pinky Unicorn Playz xX January 16, 2020 at 7:08 am

    Pray god for Australia and the animals there 😔 Hope the fire ends soon before everyone is wiped out

  • Reply RNK RNK January 16, 2020 at 7:14 am

    So so sad. Poor animals. Humans really hv to step up their game when it comes to protecting our world in general. We’re responsible.

  • Reply Chris Callaghan January 16, 2020 at 7:26 am

    Don't worry, I'm sure our right wing, coal drunk, climate change denying government has a plan . . .

  • Reply GrooberNedJardine January 16, 2020 at 7:34 am

    only weeks ago video'd three Koalas in a tree on my back boundary , iv'e lived in my area over 40 years , even searched for colonies in my local area with the wild life foundation , but now we have warning signs on roads around our whole shire warning drivers to be aware of Koalas . That's never happened before , there are healthy colonies in many parts of Australia , some have even suggested culling in those areas , so no need to worry . In an area i prospect i saw over 40.000 hectares burned out , still plenty of Kangaroos around ,infact last time i went , i almost hit three in my car , not to worry still plenty of Roo's . However bushfires were caused through a protracted drought , a build up of debri , a lack of fire hazard reduction , and ridiculous Greens policies , and an about 200 sick demented arsonists , nothing more , no climate change ridiculousness , it's raining now right across the state and hopefully this drought will be broken .

  • Reply Йескела ДикоOбраz January 16, 2020 at 7:39 am

    😭😭😭 animals…

  • Reply The god named Yato January 16, 2020 at 7:42 am

    Use Venice's flooding waters to put our the Australian fires

  • Reply john smith January 16, 2020 at 7:53 am

    can you please make your next video about how they are making australians extinct quicker than koalas right under our noses ?????????????????
    im sure you wont because you complicit

  • Reply Galaxy Waffles 2.0 January 16, 2020 at 8:10 am

    Before the world "ends"…

    im going to end myself first.

  • Reply JiaYi Lei January 16, 2020 at 8:26 am

    Why was the video at the last clip cut halfway something is not right. I need the full video on this. I am protesting now. 🤬🤬🤬

  • Reply Joe Ordaz January 16, 2020 at 8:38 am

    I think animals are just like humans, because we have everything alike accept animals can't talk but some have adapted to use sign language others use any means possible to let us know they need help

  • Reply Ethen Ethan January 16, 2020 at 8:42 am

    Where is Steve Irwin when you need him 😢

  • Reply Ted Tates January 16, 2020 at 8:47 am

    charizard really taking over venusaur at the moment.. we need that blastoise to come back like the queensland floods from back in the day..

  • Reply shape shifter January 16, 2020 at 9:04 am

    Hahaha there is so many koalas in Australia. Australia is a massive place.

  • Reply DrBubbles 80 January 16, 2020 at 9:04 am

    It was caused by arson not climate change lol

  • Reply M B January 16, 2020 at 9:13 am

    The problem with the human race is everyone wants change but no one wants to change.

  • Reply Sugata Roy Chowdhury January 16, 2020 at 9:22 am

    Massive massacre is needed to curb the population of human race to save the mother Earth .

  • Reply Rhys January 16, 2020 at 9:25 am

    No there not

  • Reply Judith Eva Barsi & Heather O'Rourke Memorial January 16, 2020 at 9:25 am

    1 billion animals dead let that sync in for a moment… that's more then ww1 and ww2 combined

  • Reply Anonymous Anonymous January 16, 2020 at 9:26 am

    Natural order. Stop moaning about it, we hurt the planet so the planet hurt us.

  • Reply zZGrimz January 16, 2020 at 9:27 am

    Wow so you saying my spieces are going extinct

  • Reply Ahmad Solihin January 16, 2020 at 10:09 am

    Analysis war iran with US please

  • Reply Errol Flynn's Swashbuckling Revenge January 16, 2020 at 10:51 am

    I'm of the opinion that koala bears should go extinct. I was maimed by a drop bear in the past. It almost tore my throat off! They're horrible animals. It's karma time koala bears!

  • Reply Ewelina Mendelewska January 16, 2020 at 11:06 am

    Could koalas live on other continents?

  • Reply Brendan Pospischil January 16, 2020 at 11:18 am

    Next year there won't be a fire season…

  • Reply Elgeko k January 16, 2020 at 11:38 am

    ARE there species that have already been extinct by this? I really wanna know

  • Reply Sirawit Charoenratthakarn January 16, 2020 at 11:40 am

    All of this start with 24 monster that start the fire

  • Reply Bekad Baens. January 16, 2020 at 11:50 am

    good things and bad things happenned at once. nice to witness.

  • Reply Ant Mc January 16, 2020 at 11:51 am

    Blame the Greens Party and corrupt Politicians for this disaster. If they are deliberately lit then Climate change has nothing to do with it.
    Interesting how the fires are where a proposed speed Rail from Melbourne to Sydney will be built.

  • Reply Vaishnavi Yeddula January 16, 2020 at 12:22 pm

    cant believe that there are still people who deny climate change . it is deeply depressing

  • Reply Hunting lucifer black January 16, 2020 at 12:28 pm

    The koala will not go extinct because of the fires . There are populations that are unaffected by the fires . They will recover . It's been happening in Australia since before Whiteman .

  • Reply Parth Gohil January 16, 2020 at 12:36 pm

    Hahha eat roasted koala meat

  • Reply Lavina S January 16, 2020 at 12:41 pm

    No they will not get extinct ☹️ I know the ppl Australia will try their best to never let that happen. I have never saw any country care for animals more than Australia. These ppl are amazing

  • Reply Gus Alcon January 16, 2020 at 12:42 pm

    They aren't extinct yet but I swear they are very close to disappearing. I could drive for hours and not see any… 30 yrs ago it was a whole different picture.

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