Two Australian icons got a helping hand this year from their home country. The koala and the Tasmanian devil each received support from Australia when it declared the status of all koalas as “vulnerable” and promoted the Tasmanian devil to an emblem for the state.
First, Queensland’s premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced that all koalas in the state, not just the ones in the southeast region, would be listed as vulnerable. Several factors have affected the welfare of koalas and led to this status update, including car accidents, dog attacks and other results of urbanization.
The new listing will align the state government’s position on koalas with that of the federal government. State agencies will work with local councils to make sure koala populations are tracked and factored into future development. It also may be necessary to plant new habitats for koalas to offset an impact that development has on the species.
It’s unclear how many koalas are in Queensland, but an audit from between 2007 and 2011 put koala losses at 16,000. Queensland’s environment minister Steven Miles said:
“It’s bad news because it means the koala population is not as strong outside of southeast Queensland as we thought. But it’s good news because it means the government and local councils will do more to protect [them].”
Further south, the Tasmanian devil has been chosen as the first animal emblem ever in Tasmania. The species was chosen because it is recognized around the world as uniquely Tasmanian. Moreover, Tasmania hopes that choosing the devil as its emblem will raise awareness about the species and devil facial tumour disease, an aggressive non-viral transmissible parasitic cancer among devils.