Hundreds of koalas feared dead in Australian wildfires

Koalas climb high into trees during wildfires and survive if the fire front passes quickly below them

Conservationists fear hundreds of koalas have perished in wildfires that have razed prime habitat on Australia’s east coast.

Port Macquarie Koala Hospital President Sue Ashton said she hoped wildlife carers would be allowed to begin their search of the fire zone for survivors on Thursday. The fire was started by a lightning strike on Friday in a forest in New South Wales state, 300 kilometres (190 miles) north of Sydney, and has since burnt 2,000 hectares (4,900 acres).

Two-thirds of that area was koala habitat, Ashton said.

“If we look at a 50% survival rate, that’s around about 350 koalas and that’s absolutely devastating,” Ashton said of the death toll.

“We’re hoping it’s not as bad as that, but because of the intensity of the fire and the way koalas behave during fire, we’re not holding out too much hope,” she added.

Koalas climb high into trees during wildfires and survive if the fire front passes quickly below them.

The koala colony was particularly heathy and genetically diverse, Ashton said. Koalas prefer coastal forests, which are being cleared for suburban expansion. Increasingly isolated koala colonies have become inbred and diseased.

ALSO READ: B.C. animal lover helps livestock flee wildfires

Australia’s wildfire season has made a particularly early and devastating start in the southern hemisphere spring due to above-average temperatures and below-average rainfall that has left much of the east coast in drought.

Rod McGuirk, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Hotel workers gather in Victoria, demand right to return to work

Workers also asking the government to make sure employers don’t use pandemic to replace them

UPDATE: Vancouver Island skydiving community mourns loss of one of its own

James Smith, 34, of Victoria, dies in Nanoose Bay incident

World’s biggest Nanaimo bar confirmed, but it’s not in Nanaimo

Two Ontario children set the bar high with successful biggest Nanaimo bar world record attempt

Tofino beachgoers ‘horrified’ by jet-skis in surf zone

Online video of Sea-Doo operating within 50 metres of neophyte surfers causes alarm

Langford teens reunited with family after rescue near Chemainus

Friends spent night in missing truck, spotted by RCMP helicopter

Horrifying video shows near head-on collision on Trans Canada

The video was captured on dash cam along Highway 1

Elizabeth May endorses Furstenau in BC Greens race

Former federal party leader backs Cowichan Valley MLA

Fraser Valley woman complains of violent RCMP takedown during wellness check

Mounties respond that she was not co-operating during Mental Health Act apprehension

B.C. sees 12 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths

Three outbreaks exist in health-care settings

Lost dog swims Columbia River multiple times searching for home

The dog was missing from his Castlegar home for three days.

COVID-19: B.C. promotes video-activated services card

Mobile app allows easier video identity verification

Nanaimo RCMP arrest four, seize drugs and $19K in “problem house” search

Home was subject of numerous complaints of drug trafficking, theft and disturbances

Victoria woman loses $2,500 to scammer spoofing VicPD phone number

VicPD warns against sharing personal information, sending money to strangers

Most Read