Sadly from 2019 (mid to end) into 2020 Australia has been the midst of a Bushfire Crisis, with a significant amount of land which has been burnt by fire. Estimates have placed the size of the fire at around 10 million hectares (or 15.6 million acres) as of around Mid January 2020. These fires have also claimed the lives of up to 28 people including four firefighters.
The fires have primarily been spread across New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia (Primarily Kangaroo Island) with a heartbreaking number of animals perishing as a result of the fires. Estimates on Kangaroo island alone place the number of Koala's having died as potentially up to 25,000 – 50,000 (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/11/world/australia/fires-animals.html) of a population of around 60,000 on the island ( https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-01-17/koala-captured-on-camera-on-kangaroo-island/11877688 ). Some Media reports have referenced up to 0.5 – 1 billion animals having died.
Whilst any loss of life is devastating, the sheer number of animals that have died in these fires is incomprehensible. and if you have been watching the news like me, the photos that are being shown are heartbreaking.
To give you an idea of the number of Animal species within Australia, estimates suggest that there are somewhat between 200,000 – 300,000 species in Australia of which 100,00 have been described. This is made up of 250 species of native mammals, 550 species of land and aquatic birds, 680 species of reptiles, 190 species of frogs and greater than 2,000 species of marine and freshwater fish, what is remaining is invertebrates which also include insects. ( https://www.britannica.com/place/Australia/Animal-life )
The IUCN Red List estimates that there are around 164 critically endangered species and 342 endangered species within Australia. It should be noted this also includes species which are less likely to be affected by fire (e.g. aquatic species). (https://www.iucnredlist.org/search)
Whilst the rain has helped, there are still a number of fires which are currently burning and will likely burn for some time. As these fires are extinguished, and area(s) are made safe for access as a country we will get a better idea of how the wildlife has fared through these fires.
We can only hope that we don't see increases to the species which are critically endangered or endangered and that the number of extinct species remains at 41.
For those who want to donate to the Rescue Efforts, WIRES Wildlife Rescue are accepting donations at https://www.wires.org.au/
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