Australia's iconic marsupial, the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) is endangered in some regions of the country, so the government announced today it was moving to protect the most vulnerable koalas by listing them as threatened, and listing some populations in New South Wales, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory as vulnerable. Koalas now join 55 other mammal species on the national threatened species list including the humpback whale and the numbat. The states mentioned are densely populated by humans, and loss of habitat is causing the koalas problems. Koalas do not inhabit Western Australia or Tasmania. The Koala populations in Victoria and South Australia are considered abundant and not included in the new status designations. The Australia Koala Foundation estimates there are around 100,000 left living in the wild after being hunted and exterminated to near extinction in the early 20th Century. Protection of the koala from extermination was one of the first environmental issues which rallied widespread support from the Australian public. Today, habitat loss and disease, notably chlamydia, is threatening the survival of the marsupial which needs large tracts of undisturbed forest to forage for its low energy diet of eucalyptus leaves. The listing decision has been a long time coming. The federal government first considered the plight of koalas in 1996. Last year, a three year study of the koalas conservation status was completed by a Senate environment committee, the first ever parliamentary inquiry into a single species. The inquiry called for a $36 million dollar increase in funding for koala disease research. Developers will have to contend with the listings when making applications in those areas designated koala habitat.