environmental

Australia fires: fears for unique wildlife after estimated 25,000 koalas killed on Kangaroo island

Millions of hectares of land have burned in the bushfires in Australia, killing an estimated 1 billion animals. As the death toll climbs, many creatures have been orphaned or left without homes.

In particular some unique ecosystems, like the one of Kangaroo Island are hit especially hard.

Ecologists have grave concerns for the future of unique and endangered wildlife on Kangaroo Island where bushfires have killed thousands of koalas.

Fires on the island, in South Australia, have so far burned through 155,000 hectares – about one third of the island’s entire area – with blazes concentrated in the biodiversity-rich western areas. Here is a view of the island and the fires:

KangarooIsland

Concerns are greatest for the unique and endangered mouse-like marsupial the Kangaroo Island dunnart, and the glossy black-cockatoo, which have both seen extensive areas of critical habitat burned.

Koalas thrived on the island, and there is a government program to reduce their numbers.

Mitchell said some islanders had considered the koalas a pest as their numbers had grown as high as 50,000. He said “probably more than half” of the island’s koalas would have perished in the fires, but it was “a guessing game”.

Prof Corey Bradshaw, an ecologist at Flinders University, has been speaking to scientific colleagues on the ground and said they had grave concerns for the dunnarts and the cockatoos.

“It is extreme events – whether it’s drought, flood, cyclones or fires – that drives things to extinction.”

A Fire Tornado racing over Kangaroo Island:

For more info, click here to read the full article on the Guardian.

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