Koalas were officially declared endangered Friday in eastern Australia.
This comes as the marsupials continue to fall prey to chlamydia and lose their habitats to land clearing and climate change.
Koalas had been previously listed as a vulnerable species.
A vulnerable designation means a species faces a high risk of extinction in the medium term.
Endangered means they are at high risk of extinction in the short term.
“Koalas have gone from no-listing to vulnerable to endangered within a decade. That is a shockingly fast decline,” said Stuart Blanch, a conservation scientist with the World Wildlife Fund-Australia.
The endangered designation won’t necessarily create more rules to protect the animal.
Instead, there will be a great focus on conservation efforts, as well as a more rigorous assessment of project developments.
The Australian Koala Foundation estimates that there are fewer than 100,000 Koalas left in the wild, possibly as few as 43,000.
About 6,400 of the animals died in summer brushfires in 2019-2020.
The government contends that listing koalas as endangered will highlight and help address threats, while conservation groups argue more has to be done to prevent their extinction.