A RECENT NSW Parliamentary report states that koalas may be extinct in NSW within 30 years.
The bushfires affected 24 per cent of koala habitats, and it is estimated at least 5000 koalas perished.
The other effects of climate change are another cause of their decline, but the most serious threat was land clearing for mining and agriculture.
Koalas are becoming confined to isolated fragments of habitat, which affects genetic diversity in the koala populations that are left.
This is Australia - how can an iconic animal like the koala go extinct, even locally?
But Australia has the worst mammal extinction rate of any country in the world, so it's quite possible.
OTHER RECENT ECO NEWS COLUMNS:
The committee making the report made 42 recommendations to address the situation - more action to preserve habitats from agriculture, mining and logging, consideration of koalas in bushfire action and recovery plans, and the establishment of a Great Koala National Park on the NSW mid-north coast.
If these recommendations aren't acted on, future generations may not be able to see koalas (and maybe other animals) in the wild.
In my 18 years in Australia I have been lucky enough to see koalas in the wild a few times, along with various kangaroos, emus and a few snakes.
Just in my suburban backyard I have seen echidnas, blue-tongue lizards, a possum and many of our iconic birds - parrots, cockatoos, galahs, the entertaining wrens and wagtails, and a host of not-so-recognisable species.
The other day, after walking my dogs, a beautiful small spotted bird came and perched on my car door only half a metre away from me.
I later identified it as a spotted pardalote, and will look out for him again.
In a previous life in Zimbabwe, I have seen elephants charging, lions killing, rhinos mating, and had a giraffe follow me home from a fishing trip. All these encounters have left me feeling immensely privileged to interact with other inhabitants of our planet.
For governments to prioritise development and money-making over the retention of wildlife is a short-sighted policy that demeans the human race.
Mahatma Gandhi said: "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." Amen to that.