We have just come out of a major fire in the Amazon rainforest. But it seems like the forest fires are not showing any signs of relief. The bushfire season has started in Australia. While it does happen quite often in Australia, this time the bushfire season was intense. The fire raged at the Lake Innes Nature Reserve and it has been reported that about 67% of the koala habitat was destroyed last month. Only one of the fifteen major blazes have put the entirety of the koala population in the southeastern state under threat. According to experts, this is one of the rare times when such an intense bushfire has taken place and wiped out about half the koala population living along the coastal reserve in New South Wales.
It is estimated that around 350 koalas have been living in the Macquarie and they have lost their lives in the bushfire. The estimations were presented by the Koala Conservation Australia. The total population in the reserve is around 500-600 which means it has been a massive loss.
Animal carers and vets at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital are tending to the wounded and rescued animals by feeding leaves of eucalyptus trees and bandaging their wounds. They are trying to look for pain signals like grinding teeth or signs of distress. That’s because koala health issues are hard to spot. As per Ms. Gordon, who has worked at that hospital for about 15 years, sometimes koalas can appear healthy. You might see their paws healing. But there can be other issues going on inside the animal. If one cannot detect any problem, then it is not possible to cure or tend to it. The animal carers are presuming that within 10 days, a proper evaluation of the loss of the koala population can be made. Even an appeal has been put forward to raise funds to help these wounded koalas.
Koalas are native to the Australian continent and there are very few of them present – within 50,000 to just over 100,000. They live in the eucalyptus forests down the east and near the coastlines. They have a lifespan of about 20 years and carry their young ones in their pouch. Generally, koalas sleep for 18 hours.
According to James Tremain, working for the Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales, the warm weather conditions that climate change has brought and the constant deforestation trends have lowered the habitable spots of koalas. The bushfires will affect a few key areas of population and the growing temperature will also affect it. It will especially affect the nutrient source of the animals that is the eucalyptus leaves which koalas love.
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The New South Wales blazes are showing that the koalas in that area are in trouble. However, if the rate of decline still continues as it has been for the last 30 years, then koalas will go extinct by the middle of this century, as per James Tremain.