Experts now believe that koalas have become a functionally extinct species due to the devastating bushfires that have ravaged the Eastern parts of Australia over the last few weeks. The bushfires have not only caused the deaths of hundreds of the wild animal, but it has also effectively destroyed around 80 per cent of their natural habitat. Firefighters have tried their best to rescue wildlife, and many pictures of injured koalas had gone viral on the internet.
Chairman of the Australian Koala Foundation, Deborah Tabart OAM revealed the actual data saying that their organisation estimated that there were more than 1,000 koalas that perished to death during the bushfires in the last two months. BBC reflecting on the term ‘functionally extinct’ said that it is used to describe the animal population which cannot reproduce their offsprings. Hence, they cannot copulate.
Tabart added that, according to the reports of Port Macquarie, 31 koalas were killed in the bushfires, but that is not the actual number. She further added that the Koalas left will also find to survive as there are very fewer eucalyptus trees left which take years to grow. Tabart has requested the Australian government to impose the Koala Protection act to protect the surviving Koalas.
A lightning strike on October 27 instigated a bushfire in an area that is critical to the unique Koala population, which is 400km north of Sydney. The fire destroyed over 2,000 hectares and continues to intensify. As per records, it is predicted that around 350 genetically diverse Koalas perished in the bushfire in the southern region of Port Macquarie. The local authorities have deployed fire services and rescue operations to safely rescue the Koalas, however, the blazing flames, continue to keep the area inaccessible. The staff of the Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie also reported that it is difficult to access and monitor the region due to intense flames, thereby isolating the area.
(With inputs from agencies)