Many of my readers would be aware of the human tragedy surrounding the current bush fires in Victoria. In times like these it is easy to forget that the birds and animals suffer terribly too.
I’ve just received an email from National Parks and Wildlife asking people to donate money to help with the recovery programme of koalas burnt in the current bush fires.
If you are able to help out click here to donate money.
Here is a part of the relevant article on their website.
Impact of bushfires on koalas
When nature itself strikes koalas with bushfires, the survival of entire populations becomes a matter of minutes and hours. Bushfires kill some koalas directly because they are such exposed animals. On fire perimeters they can be injured, often by being burnt on their paws and noses as they try to climb smouldering trees.
The impact of a bushfire on a koala population depends on how much unburnt habitat with surviving koalas remains with recolonisation as the key to survival.
Fires restrict the movements of koalas in the burnt bush, and populations only remain genetically healthy if there is a small but constant exchange between populations. Results from earlier studies suggest that due to habitat fragmentation bushfires may well lead to the local extinction of many koala populations.
My condolences to all those families who have lost family members in the tragic wildfires that have devastated the Australian state of Victoria over the last 48 hours.
For the benefit of my overseas readers, the major fires have been about an hour’s drive north, north east and south east of Melbourne, Victoria. Some are still raging out of control after record high temperatures and wild winds swept the firestorm through many rural communities.
As I sat down to write this the number of deaths has risen over the last half hour from 65 to 74 and now stands at 76. Many more are still missing, and as destroyed homes and burnt out vehicles are searched, the death toll is sure to rise, some predict over 100. It is already the most deaths due to fires in Australia’s history.
At least four towns have been severely devastated with most homes destroyed. One town has only one building unburnt. Over 700 homes have been lost.
I have no idea what effect these fires have had on the birdlife of the areas burnt, or of the wildlife in general. I can only imagine the worst. I know of at least one wildlife rescue centre that has been destroyed, together with the loss of all animals in care.
Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary to the north east of Melbourne has evacuated all of the endangered species, including the rare Orange-bellied Parrots, to Melbourne Zoo.
Update: Later in the evening the death toll stood at 84 and the number of homes lost at 750.
Update late Monday: The death toll now stands at 135 and is expected to rise further. It is now easily Australia’s worst natural disaster.
Update Thursday 19th Feb: The death toll has now reached 200 plus one fire fighter who lost his life during the cleanup. About 1830 homes were lost and 7000 people are now homeless.