As Prince Harry prepares to meet koalas at Taronga Zoo today, WWF-Australia hopes his visit draws world attention to the alarming decline of the much-loved marsupial.
In 2003, as a fresh-faced 19-year-old, Prince Harry posed with koalas at Taronga Zoo.
In the 15 years since then, koala numbers in NSW have plunged by 32%, largely due to the bulldozing of forests they depend on.
WWF-Australia conservation scientist Dr Martin Taylor used figures published by the Federal Government’s Threatened Species Scientific Committee to estimate that in 2003 there were 24,600 koalas, while now in 2018 there are only 16,800.
At this rate of decline, by the time Prince Harry is in his mid-60s in 2050, koalas could disappear from the wild in New South Wales.
“The NSW government needs to urgently tighten laws to halt the alarming resurgence of tree clearing we are seeing now,” Dr Taylor said.
“Otherwise, zoos may be the only place left in New South Wales to see a koala,” he said.
WWF discovered that bulldozing of koala habitats more than tripled in north central NSW west of Moree after the repeal of the Native Vegetation Act last year.