Hundreds Of Koalas May Have Died
Hundreds of koalas have been burned to death in wildfires in New South Wales, Australia.
The fire, which started as a result of lightning strikes on Saturday and which has affected 2 thousand hectares of land including the breeding grounds of koalas, one of the country’s most important symbols, has still not been contained.
Cheyne Flanagan from the rescue team told Australian state television ABC that the fire near Port Macquarie had engulfed a koala shelter, adding: “We fear the death toll is high due to the severity of the fire.”
Flanagan said because the fire could not be brought under control, they did not know if the koalas survived.
These animals that live in trees are one of the first victims of wildfires. Koalas try to protect themselves by climbing to the top of trees and becoming tubers in fires.
Sue Ashton from Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, said: “if the flames move quickly, only their feathers are burning and they can get away. Their feathers grow back over time. But if the trees they’re on burn, they have no chance of survival. We are facing a national tragedy,” she said.
Numbers of animals native to Australia have begun to decline rapidly in recent years.
It is estimated that as many as 43 thousand koalas live in their natural habitat in the country.
Koala deaths are being linked to their loss of habitat, diseases, dog attacks and climate change.
Hundreds of forest and bushfires have broken out in the past few months in the country’s most populous state, New South Wales.