Australia: Dozens of koalas killed in logging | News | DW | 03.02.2020
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Australia: Dozens of koalas killed in logging

Koalas are at risk of becoming endangered after Australian bushfires this season killed tens of thousands. Dozens of the marsupials had to be euthanized in Victoria state after an area where they were living was logged.

Australian conservation authorities are investigating a "very distressing incident" after dozens of koalas were killed because loggers had destroyed their habitat in the Australian state of Victoria.

Dozens of koalas had to be euthanized and around 80 others suffering from injuries and starvation were removed from a bluegum plantation near the town of Portland in Australia's southwest coast, Victoria's environment department said. Locals reported seeing bulldozers moving around piles of dead koalas in recent days.

Read more: Australia: My country is burning

"If this is found to be due to deliberate human action, we expect the conservation regulator to act swiftly against those responsible," the environment department said. 

Logging company Midway had logged the plantation last year before handing it over to a local landowner in November. Midway has rejected the "disturbing" allegations that it is responsible for harming the animals, saying that it had left "an appropriate number of 'habitat trees' for the existing koala population" when the project wrapped.

Since then, the trees seem to have been cleared, the company said.

Koalas 'massacred'

Koala researcher for conservation group Friends of the Earth Australia Anthony Amis said the high concentration of koalas and unique, healthy gene pool found in this bluegum plantation had made it one of the most important koala habitats in the state. 

"They (locals) found koalas bulldozed. Our local sources told us they could smell rotting koalas. It's a massacre," Amis told German news agency dpa.

Killing or harassing wildlife in Victoria can result in large fines.

A lobby group for the forestry industry said it will conduct its own investigation into the incident. 

Tens of thousands of koalas have been killed and dozens of habitats destroyed in bushfires that continue to burn in Australia. At this rate, the iconic marsupial is in danger of becoming endangered.

kp/stb (dpa, AFP)

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