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Queensland earmarks $8.9 million for koala protection

Staff writer |
Australia's Queensland state government has earmarked AUD 12 million ($8.91 million) in its next state budget to help save its dwindling koala population.

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"Koala numbers in south east Queensland are showing no signs of stabilizing despite considerable efforts to address their decline over the past 20 years," the state's environment minister Steven Miles said in a statement.

Koalas in parts of the state have been labelled "effectively extinct," according to a report from the University of Queensland, while numbers in New South Wales state have fallen almost 30 percent since 1990 to list the endemic bears as vulnerable.

Koala populations have been under pressure from habitat destruction associated with human development, however researchers are warning they are also susceptible to sexually transmitted diseases which are spreading rapidly due to closer interaction.

It's estimated Australia's koala populations have fallen to around 333,000 in 2012 from 10 million koalas before British settlement in 1788.

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