As Australia continues to face the growing and unprecedented wave of bushfires breaking out across the country, heartbreaking images have shown the devastating impact the fires have had on the country’s wildlife.
New pictures from the state of New South Wales have now emerged that show a dehydrated and badly burnt kangaroo seeking help from a teenage boy.
The marsupial suffered what appear to be bad burns before the boy doused the creature in water and gave it a bowl from which it could drink.
More than half a billion animals are predicted to have died while others are facing starvation and dehydration as the fires destroy their habitats https://t.co/wNZT6fxqpz
— Metro (@MetroUK) January 4, 2020
Ecologists from the University of Sydney have sounded the warning that nearly 500 million mammals, reptiles and birds—including 8,000 koalas— may have been killed in the current crisis, although the current death toll is impossible to calculate.
The massive loss of life threatens to forever tip the balance for entire species of animals and plants on an island continent where 87 percent of wildlife is endemic to the country, meaning it can only be found in Australia.
The indigenous fauna includes such unique creatures as kangaroos, koalas, wallabies, wombats, potoroos, bandicoots, and echidnas.
Regions devastated by the fires include the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area and portions of the Gondwana rainforests, the most extensive subtropical rainforest in the world which has existed since the time of dinosaurs.
— Lily Was Here (@WhereIsLilyNow) January 4, 2020
Because the fires have extended to the rainforests, wetlands, and dry eucalyptus forests, animals have no place to find refuge. Experts warn that the massive loss of life could forever tip the balance for entire species of animals and plants.
Mike Letnic, a professor of conservation biology at the University of Sydney, told the Sydney Morning Herald:
“With the climate being so dry at the moment, and the intensity of these fires, wet gully areas and so on that normally escape the worst of it have been burnt.
Animals that typically survive in these patches that don’t burn can recolonize from these refuges, but there may be too few pathways to allow for effective recolonization. It will depend on how many refuges are left.”
— dominic dyer (@domdyer70) January 3, 2020
Over 12 million acres of land, an area larger than Switzerland, have burned since the brushfires broke out. The brushfire crisis has been stoked by a combination of extreme winds, record-shattering heat waves, and drought-parched forests, grasslands, and brush.
Authorities have described the effect of the fires destroying whole regions with comparisons to nuclear warfare. New South Wales Transport Minister told ABC radio:
“I’ve got to be honest with you, this isn’t a bushfire, it’s an atomic bomb.
It’s indescribable the hell it’s caused and the devastation it’s caused.”
THIS IS BEAUTIFUL. A young kangaroo that was badly burned and rescued then treated…will live to eventually have a great life. What a wonderful photo of wildlife and humans working together for the better good. pic.twitter.com/RtEklNuVLN
— Avon Buddhists (@ABuddhists) November 19, 2019