Koalas are getting extinct

Koalas are getting functionally extinct after the massive bushfires in Australia and it’s the saddest news of November. According to the Australian Koala Foundation (AKF) there are no more than 80,000 animals are left living in the wild, which leaves the species functionally extinct. The term means that their population declined to a point, where they can no longer play a significant role in their ecosystem. Koala numbers are declining rapidly and there seems to be no change in stopping this process. The main cause of their disappearance can be traced back to two things: climate change and extensive deforestation as a result of urbanization and uncontrolled habitat destruction.

To honor those little survivors, I put together a visualization from the KoalaBASE maintained by the Queensland Government in Tableau. They are collecting koala sightings since 1996. I used the hospital data for my viz, where we can track how many of them were registered seen and if they were dead, injured, sick or under threat. Lots of koalas were mentioned by name, it turned out, that Wilvo was the most popular among them in the past 10 years, spotted 47 times. The online version of the dashboard is available here on the Tableau Public portal.

Tableau dashboard

I used a custom radial bar chart to show the koala sightings by year followed by the instructions of the SuperDataScience team, for which I had to duplicate my data (and pay attention to limit it on all other visuals). I thought it would be best if I would highlight the last year somehow, so that’s where my favorite yellow color stepped into the picture. With the forced bubble chart inside it looks more like a nuclear fission than koala spottings, but I loved it so much that it had to stay. For the map, I only wanted to show the Oceania region to keep the looks simple, so I used an easy shapefile filtering trick in Mapbox to do that. Parameters for sighting category, percentile & top N selection can be modified by clicking on the hamburger menu.

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