In recent news in November 2019, Australia has been devastated by massive wildfires occurring throughout the country. As a consequence, the living places of both humans and animals have been destroyed, and one particular animal that has been hit hard by the effects of the wildfires is the instantly recognizable koala, an icon of Australia. According to Australian Koala Foundation, the animal has lost over 80% of its habitat to the spreading flames with an estimation of over 1,000 koalas have been killed.
There have also been reports that koalas may be functionally extinct, where they cannot play a meaningful role in the ecosystem. In a fire, their only defense is climbing to the tops of their trees, which is of little help. Their primary food source, eucalyptus leaves, have also been consumed by the flames, leaving the animals potentially starving even when the fire dies out. This has led to several heartbreaking images of burned and dying koalas spreading online as symbols of the effects of the blaze. In response, Australians has responded to support the hospitalization and help for burned koalas. In particular, the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital’s Go Fund Me page to collect a donation to help treat injured koalas has raised more than $1.79 million coming from over 41,000 donors.
Fortunately, there are also other several rescue centers offering treatment for the stricken animals, although some are beyond help. However, other experts have disputed the threat faced by koalas. They stated that although koalas may have been severely affected in some areas, koalas have been thriving in other parts of their habitat. Despite the tragedy, experts still believe there is hope for the population as a whole to continue to thrive.