According to the Australian authorities, the burned area is so far larger than the extension of Belgium and in this area, are the eucalyptus forests, the natural habitat of koalas, one of the species of trees most devastated by the flames. According to experts, it is estimated that more than 8,000 koalas have already died in the fire, despite the actions of the government and civilians to save the greatest number of these marsupials.
The issue is even more serious since four years ago, ecologists had denounced that due to the droughts and the cutting down of eucalyptus, added to the low frequency of reproduction that these animals have, there was a notable decrease in the population of these animals.
Koalas are one of the main tourist attractions of the country and that therefore generates some nine thousand jobs in the area. The total losses are difficult to calculate, but in one of the most affected areas, Kangaroo Island (off the coast of southern Australia, southwest of Adelaide), half of the 50,000 koalas counted may have died, according to Australian newspapers.
Deborah Tabart, leader of the Australian Koala Foundation, noted that fires are affecting areas of vital importance to the survival of koalas, especially on the country’s eastern seaboard. She also pointed out that in recent weeks “many koalas have arrived at animal hospitals, but this number is nothing compared to those that have died in the fires”.
The red list of threatened species, which is managed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), has kept the koala in the “vulnerable” category since 2014, but the impact of the fires already justifies that the species is now in the higher category, that is, “endangered”.