SYDNEY, May 2 (Xinhua) -- Ahead of the international Wild Koala Day, the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) warned on Tuesday that Australia's koalas are under threat.
The WWF said that more needs to be done to protect koalas, a day before the annual Wild Koala Day on Wednesday, May 3.
"Koalas are not endangered, but in parts of the country, they are really struggling and it all comes down to habitat loss," WWF head of living ecosystems Darren Grover told Xinhua.
"Koalas are one of the most iconic animals in the world. If we can't protect them, what hope is there for lesser known animals?"
The Australian Koala Foundation estimates that there are less than 100,000 koalas left in the wild, possibly as few as 43,000.
A local koala rescue organisation based in the Australian state of New South Wales said the current situation is "extremely dire" for koalas.
"Koalas are listed as vulnerable and we are extremely close to the brink, particularly in some areas," Port Stephens Koalas Care and Rescue Coordinator Simone Aurino said.
"When we try to move their habitat, we are inhibiting a koala's ability to live without coming into contact with humans and risk their lives by having to cross busy roads to access food or to find a mate."
In Australia, collisions with cars, disease, and attacks by pet dogs are the main causes of death in the koala population, which Grover attributes to human-created conditions.
"All these issues come down to habitat loss. Where habitats are intact, koalas are much safer. They are healthy and able to fight diseases and they are safe in the trees, where they do not have to worry about dog attacks and car collisions," Grover said.
Habitat destruction is thought to increase stress in koalas, and wreak havoc on their immune system which makes them more susceptible to diseases.
While most of Australia's wildlife is endemic to the country, Australia has the highest extinction rate of mammal species in the world.