Wild Koala Population ‘Will Never Recover’ From Australian Bushfires
An expert fears Australia’s wild koala population will never recover, after crippling bushfires killed more than 2,000 and destroyed 1% of their habitat.
New South Wales (NSW) has been ravaged by bushfires over the past weeks, with 90 blazes said to still be burning – half of which are uncontained.
The number of fires has been described as ‘unprecedented’ – as such, the NSW upper house inquiry held an urgent meeting concerning the state’s koala population, which heard they ‘will probably never find the bodies’ due to the extensive destruction of their habitats.
Talking at the inquiry today, December 9, Nature Conservation Council ecologist Mark Graham said that koalas, in nature, don’t have the ‘capacity to move fast enough to get away’ from raging crown fires.
Graham added, as per the MailOnline:
We’ve lost such a massive swathe of known koala habitat that I think we can say without any doubt there will be ongoing declines in koala populations from this point forward.
The fires have burnt 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.
North East Forest Alliance president and ecologist Dailan Pugh will add later today that up to a third of NSW’s koala population may have already been lost as a result of the bushfires.
Cate Faehrmann, Greens MP and chair of the inquiry, said this should be the spark required for stronger conservation efforts. In a statement, she said: ‘Hearing that we have lost up to a third of koala habitat and more than 2,000 koalas on the north coast is utterly devastating and should be a wake-up call for this government.’
The recent bushfires have seen a renewed call for the Australian government to enact the Koala Protection Act, written in 2016 but still to be put into action. Based on the US Bald Eagle Protection Act, it would help to protect koala habitats and eucalyptus trees – a main staple of a koala’s diet – as well as protecting the creatures.
As authorities continue in their efforts to pacify the blazes, the public are doing whatever they can to assist – including one grandma, who ran in to a raging fire in Port Macquarie to rescue Lewis the Koala.
While the hospital did everything in their power to treat him (he suffered burns to his hands, feet, arms and the inside of his legs), he sadly passed away as a result of his injuries.
Since 2012, Koalas have been listed as a ‘vulnerable’ species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List.
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