Fires Have Killed Half the Koalas from a Reserve in Australia
The fires led to the deaths of half the koalas living in a reserve in New South Wales. The fire season began earlier this year and has already destroyed two-thirds of the habitats of animals in the nature reserve, according to Reuters.
About 350 animals have been killed, according to the Australian Coalition Conservation Society. That compares with a total population of 500 to 600 in the reserve, said the group's president, Sue Ashton, The Independent reported.
The rescued animals are at Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie. "We look for signals of pain - teeth grinding, distress - and we just take it on a day-by-day basis," said Amanda Gordon of the hospital.
It will take at least ten days to estimate how many animals have been injured. Population estimates for koalas, native to Australia, vary widely, from as few as 50,000 to little more than 100,000. Animals live mainly in eucalyptus forests in the eastern provinces, sleeping up to 18 hours a day.
Warmer weather caused by climate change is likely to worsen their living conditions. Deforestation has restricted the areas in which they may live, says James Tremain of the New South Wales Nature Conservation Council. "Koalas are definitely in trouble in New South Wales, but if the declines continue at the same rate as the last 20 to 30 years, koalas could be extinct in the wild by mid-century,"