Date: February 21, 2017
Source: University of Queensland
Being hit by cars and chlamydia were the top causes of a dramatic rise in south-east Queensland koala deaths over the past two decades, according to a new University of Queensland-led study.
UQ School of Veterinary Science's Associate Professor Rachel Allavena and Dr Joerg Henning worked with the Queensland Government's Moggill Koala Hospital to analyse data about koala disease and death from 1997 to 2013.
"It's important data collected over the span of the koala population crash," Dr Allavena said.
"Populations throughout 'Koala Coast' declined by about 80 per cent over this period, so this iconic and famous species is in real trouble in our area."
The senior researchers and PhD student Viviana Gonzalez-Astudillo, determined that at least a quarter of the koalas hit by cars were otherwise in good health, meaning it was healthy, breeding animals that were killed.
About half of the population that died over the study period was affected by more than one disease or health problem, including trauma.
Chlamydia was particularly devastating for koalas, because of the potential to render females infertile and cause bladder and eye problems, making predator avoidance and food foraging harder.
Animal attacks, particularly from dogs, and wasting away from starvation, disease and poor teeth were other prominent causes of koala deaths.
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