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Chlamydia And Climate Change Killing Koalas

Koalas Chlamydia

The Huffington Post   First Posted: 06/14/11 06:13 PM ET Updated: 08/14/11 06:12 AM ET

The koalas are disappearing. Fast.

But despite a number of factors threatening the small marsupial, it seems the Australian government is hesitant to place it on the endangered species list, according to Le Monde. The problem is getting so bad that in some places in Australia the population has been reduced to 20% of what it once was.

But what's killing the koala is a bit surprising. While climate change and urban development have perhaps had the biggest impact on the animal, a third factor is also pushing it towards extinction, according to the Telegraph -- chlamydia.

The bacterial infection, which is commonly known as a sexually transmitted disease among humans, has been decimating the koala population. Some estimates say koalas could go extinct in less than 30 years, according to the Telegraph.

Though it's true that in some areas the koala population has not significantly decreased, many of the local population are the result of reintroduction by conservationists, according to Le Monde. The lack of genetic diversity in the region as a result doesn't guarantee the creature's continued survival.

Yet the government hasn't taken significant steps to protect the animal, despite how much of a symbol it is for Australia. According to the report in Le Monde, the issue has finally reached the Australian senate, but won't be decided until August, when a special committee is expected to issue a recommendation.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that the koala is on Australian money. However, it is not.

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