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More Than 61,000 Koalas Killed, Injured Or Affected By Black Summer Bushfires

More Than 61,000 Koalas Killed, Injured Or Affected By Black Summer Bushfires

New figures have confirmed the 2019-20 bushfire season was 'one of the worst wildlife disasters in modern history'.

Stewart Perrie

Stewart Perrie

New figures have revealed just how devastating the 2019-20 bushfires were on Australia's fauna.

Researchers have been surveying the areas hit hardest by the infernos and estimated around three billion animals were killed, injured or affected.

Among that horrifying number, is roughly 61,000 koalas.

A report has been compiled by 10 researchers and scientists, which was commissioned by environmental group WWF-Australia.

A picture of Peter the koala who has been badly burnt in the bushfire and now is being treated at a koala hospital.
Facebook/Koala Hospital Port Macquarie

It says roughly 2.46 billion animals that were affected were reptiles, 143 million other native mammals, 181 million birds and 51 million frogs.

In the document, Dermot O'Gorman, chief executive of WWF-Australia, said the Black Summer bushfires were 'one of the worst wildlife disasters in modern history'.

"While the overall estimate that nearly 3 billion animals were in the path of the fires has not changed, scientists have drilled down to reveal the impact on some individual animal species and groupings of species," he wrote

"It's estimated that nearly 40 million possums and gliders; more than 36 million antechinuses, dunnarts, and other insectivorous marsupials; 5.5 million bettongs, bandicoots, quokkas, and potoroos; 5 million kangaroos and wallabies; 1.1 million wombats; and 114,000 echidnas were impacted.

"The worst losses were on Kangaroo Island, with more than 40,000 koalas impacted. Next was Victoria with fires scorching forests occupied by 11,000 koalas. But there were also many precious koala populations directly in the path of the fires in NSW, with nearly 8,000 koalas impacted.

A koala being saved from the fires by a local near Port Macquarie.

"That is a devastating number for a species that was already sliding towards extinction in Eastern Australia. We cannot afford to lose koalas on our watch."

The wildlife campaigners are hoping they will be able to repopulate decimated areas, however it will take a while before those habitats see the population levels like before the bushfires.

A New South Wales parliamentary inquiry found that if nothing is done to stop koalas from being affected by future tragedies, as well as from the impact of logging, then the animals could become extinct by 2050.

The report has made 11 recommendations to prevent another Black Summer bushfire scenario, which includes a call for a better understanding of the impacts of bushfires, and more research into species, where animals are and better management of other threats.

Featured Image Credit: Port Macquarie Koala Hospital/Facebook

Topics: Animals, Australia