Ecologists have stated that over 480 million mammals, birds, and reptiles have been killed in the bushfires that started in September 2019 and the numbers are set to rise as the fires have been spreading steadily.
The Australian bushfires have been ravaging the continent for months now and it is taking a toll on the wildlife. According to the Huffington Post report, the fire has killed more than half a billion wild animals across Australia. Entire species of plants and animals have been wiped out raising serious ecological concerns. Ecologists have stated that nearly 480 million mammals, birds, and reptiles have been killed in the blazes that started in September of 2019. The numbers are set to rise as the fires have been spreading steadily.
Australia’s bushland is home to a range of indigenous fauna such as kangaroos, koalas, wallabies and possums. Authorities have no exact figure on how many native animals have been killed in the bushfires but experts say it is likely to be in the millions https://t.co/NXoEkxAlxP pic.twitter.com/yP2VUYBLeS— Reuters (@Reuters) 30 December 2019
The fire has raged across Victoria and the NSW South Coast over the past few days, leaving several people dead or unaccounted for. It has also burnt down scores of homes, leaving thousands stranded. News Corp Australia reported that 130 fires were raging across NSW and Victoria, with millions of hectares of national park already burnt. The animals in the national park were seen trying to flee from the fire as it engulfed their habitat. Charred bodies of dead koalas and cockatoos were seen falling from trees and horrifying images of kangaroos trying to escape the walls of fire were witnessed.
Do people realise how bad it is in Australia right now? An area the size of Belgium has burnt to the ground & over half a million animals have been wiped up #AustraliaFires #AustraliaBurns pic.twitter.com/KY3Ux1Sko2— Deric Ó hArtagáinTV (@deric_tv) 30 December 2019
The koala population has taken a severe hit and their population has now made them functionally extinct. Koalas staple food is eucalyptus tree leaves and the oil from the trees makes it highly flammable. Due to the general slow movements of the koala, they have been severely affected by the fires that are spreading rapidly.
“The fires have burned so hot and so fast that there has been significant mortality of animals in the trees, but there is such a big area now that is still on fire and still burning that we will probably never find the bodies,” Nature Conservation Council ecologist Mark Graham told parliament.
Nearly one-third of the koala population has been hit and nearly 30 percent of its habitat has been burned down. “We’ll know more when the fires have calmed down and a proper assessment can be made,” federal environment minister Sussan Ley said.
There is currently no system in place to sustain the koala population, “We’re getting a lot of lessons out of this and it’s just showing how unprepared we are,” Science for Wildlife executive director Dr. Kellie Leigh said in the parliament hearing. “There’s no procedures or protocols in place — even wildlife carers don’t have protocols for when they can go in after the fire.”
My brother just sent me this video from yesterday at #MaluaBay where him and the rest of my family were stranded. #AustraliaFires #bushfirecrisis #Southcoastfires #AustraliaBurns #BatemasBay #RFS #NSWbushfires pic.twitter.com/LmZvZxWwrk— Lord of the Blondes (@ek_nicholls) 1 January 2020
“The impact on many species has been extreme and is ongoing. The full scale of wildlife losses will probably never be known, but they will surely number in the millions,” Stand Up for Nature warned in a letter to NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
Stand Up for Nature is an alliance of 13 organizations that is rallying to put a stop to logging activities in the NSW forests. “The effects of the catastrophic fires have been so far-reaching that allowing the further loss of habitat and impact on native species would be unconscionable. Without this information, the sustainability of harvesting operations cannot be guaranteed."
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and party have refused to take a stand on the lucrative coal business despite the widespread ecological destruction being faced in Australia. “Climate change is a huge issue and we are playing our part,” Ley said. “We are meeting and beating our targets, it’s very important that we do that.” Emergency-level fires have been reported in states of South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia, and at least 10 people have been reported dead since Christmas. Military assistance has been sought to rescue residents and tourists from the fires.