Koalas were nearly exterminated in the early 20th century because they were extensively hunted for their warm, thick fur and their environments were destroyed by fires caused by humans.
Commercial harvesting took place across the koala’s range towards the end of the 19th century and early 20th century and koalas were nearly exterminated. Millions of koalas were killed for their warm, thick pelts for a large export industry in Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland. Koala subpopulations were severely depleted and their environments were destroyed by fires caused by humans.
This was banned in Victoria in the 1890s, and it continued sporadically and under regulation in Queensland until 1927. After 1927, as a result of public outcry, the koala became legally protected. Koalas are now protected and can no longer be hunted. There is no evidence, however, that the early spate of commercial harvesting had any long-term impact on the overall population.