By: Mark Miller
Summary: It’s no secret that Australia has been dealing with wildfires for a long time. Their particularly dry climate and terrain makes for the easy spreading of wildfires if they cannot get controlled. Australia has a wildfire season every year that typically starts during the last few months of the year. Wildfires in Australia are never easy to combat and aren’t something they can brush off to the side, but last year’s wildfire season was particularly bad. During the massive bush fires that ravaged through Australia during mid to late 2019 and into early 2020, 46 million acres of land burned, almost 6,000 buildings were destroyed and there were over 30 deaths. Another important thing to consider when assessing the damage is the harm to wildlife. As such, many species of animals were greatly affected by last year’s fires. Perhaps the most unfortunate species to be affected were Australia’s koala bears, which are arguably the most recognized and well-known animal from the country. It’s estimated that about 25,000 koala bears were killed during the fires, with most burning to death or dying from complications caused by the fires, like dehydration, starvation and burns. Given the massive number of koalas that died at once, the species is unfortunately facing complete extinction. The widespread dying of Australia’s koalas hasn’t been taken lightly by any means, with numerous charitable foundations and every day citizens donating money or stepping in to assist with rehabilitation of the surviving bears.
Why we should care? The koala bear population is facing near complete extinction, given the amount of them that died during the 2019 fire season. Koala bears are beloved animals by many and seeing them fall into complete extinction would be a heartbreak for a significant amount of people. Also, people should care about this because koalas need human help, or they will not survive.
I found this particular article interesting because it outlines just how serious these issues regarding koala bears are. The article, from CNN, describes how close Australia’s koala bear population is to extinction, and breaks down the main reasons why. An important tidbit from the article is how drought, bushfires, and man-made causes have attributed to nearly two-thirds of the koala bear population dying. The first two are natural causes and are hard to avoid, but man-made causes of koalas dying should be swiftly eliminated. Also, not only do I think it’s an interesting article, I think it’s an important one because hopefully it will inspire people to assist with helping to stop the extinction of koala bears.
Science in Action.
Dr. Dan Lunney is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Sydney, Australia.
Dr. Lunney’s research is relevant to my topic because he has researched and written on how Australia’s wildfires have had an impact on koala populations in numerous parts of Australia. In one of his published articles, he states that the “reduction of the size and severity of large catastrophic fires improved the probability of survival for the population”. Here, he was referring to the population of koalas in question in his studies. This research is vital because he is clearly stating that wildfires are partly to blame for the near extinction of koala bears. Hopefully, his research is taken seriously by people who are in a position to enact changes.