- Blog Jan
The news has been broadcasted worldwide and it seems that, according to a WWF study, the Australian koala is likely to disappear within the next 30 years. These cute and peaceful animals had already been halved in the past 20 years due to the loss of their natural habitat and global warming and the loss of specimens and habitat due to the great fires in the past four months has quickly made things a lot worse.
One of the main causes that has caused these fires and this immediate climate change – with temperatures in the 40-45 degrees Celsius this Australian Summer - is precisely global warming which, in recent years, has been causing ever greater damage to our country (and worldwide), making itself responsible for numerous fires, further aggravated by excessive deforestation.
According to the WWF Australia estimates, the fires could have already killed about 8,000 koala bears, as well as having destroyed a good part of the species' primary habitat.
This is a serious blow, especially calculating that the koala populations today was already only 5% of the koala population that used to live in this continent a few centuries ago.
Saving this species depends entirely on the eucalyptus trees, which provide the koalas with food, shelter and safety. Without eucalyptus forests, koala bears are also more exposed to the risk of being run over by cars or attacked by dogs other than becoming more stressed and vulnerable to diseases. Losing these forests means losing the primary habitat of the koalas, and putting the survival of the species in serious risk in the near future.
Many things – but not enough – are done to help and save these animals.
The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, for instance, is an animal hospital specialized in taking care of these marsupials. They encourage the population to leave water containers at the base of the trees and the hospital is now also trying to distribute automatic watering stations that will help people to help wildlife in the difficult struggle for survival.
On the political and social level, however, practices of excessive logging must be stopped but let’s not get political.
Other than the koala bears, there here are hundreds, if not thousands, of Australian animal species that are seriously at risk of extinction due to the fires that in recent weeks have been burning up the primary forests of Australia and with them their precious habitats. If in fact koalas are the emblem of this very serious environmental crisis and perhaps the most exposed species in the immediate fire risk – since they are slow and cannot escape from the flames that devour the same trees on which they live - there are many other species of animals that are more or less directly affected by this situation.
Even animals that can escape from the fire, such as birds and among these in particular cockatoos - a sort of white parrot with a typical yellow crest - are falling to dozens dead due to the heat given off by the flames. The same on the ground also occurs for other animals, especially marsupials, such as wombats and kangaroos that must escape territories now largely compromised by fire.
The fires – that have not been extinguished yet - will also have repercussions in the coming months and are affecting a very delicate series of ecosystems already largely in crisis.
According to a recent United Nations estimate, Australia has over 2,000 animal and plant species, forests and wetlands at risk of extinction due to the intertwined pressures of climate change, land use practices and introduction of invasive species. Now, with these horrible fires, the problem is the loss of habitats and with them the resources necessary to support unique species that are endemic to this country – meaning they live only in Australia - such as for example platypuses, echidnas and all the other animals that make up the fauna of this delicate and precious continent.
The loss of resources triggered by the fires is already having an effect on the population of flying foxes, a species of huge bats that feed mainly on fruits. Although the adults managed to escape the flames and save the litters, I have read that many specimens are now abandoning their babies because they cannot find enough food.
Making the situation even worse is the vastness of the fires and their widespread diffusion which risks to jeopardize any possibility of recovery of the habitats themselves.
I’m not posting any photos because they hurt me too much…