SYDNEY, April 16 (Xinhua) -- Australia's beloved creature, the koala, is under threat from land clearing, disease and dog attacks, a seven-year long study has found.
By examining droppings from nearly 300 koalas in the states of New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland between 2012 to 2018, the Western Sydney University study found koalas living near areas where land clearing was taking place had significantly high levels of stress hormones in their samples.
"Koalas are facing chronic stress and this can be a significant problem for their survival," author of the study Dr. Edward Narayan told the Australian Associated Press on Tuesday.
"The demonstrated long-term stress caused by environmental trauma can lead to significant physical and psychological changes in koalas."
According to Narayan, with such high stress levels the risk of infection and suppressed reproduction is dramatically increased.
As well as habitat destruction, human encroachment on areas populated with koalas also means that domesticated animals such as dogs, are becoming an increasing threat for the species.
"Humans have become a bit too greedy and we need to think about the ways we can make animals our priority because if our native species show problems that means our ecosystem is not holding up," Narayan said.
Calling on the Australian government to prioritize the welfare of native animals when planning infrastructure and developments, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, who funded the study, said koalas need to be given more space to live.
"This research proves the true impact of a development on local koala populations remains well after the bulldozers and construction teams have moved on," regional director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Rebecca Keeble said.
"Koalas must be given more space to live and thrive in if we are going to successfully overcome the challenges posed by urbanization, human-wildlife conflict and other issues created by human interference."