Australia bushfires caused thousands of koala deaths in New South Wales – report

Support us and go ad-free

At least 5,000 koalas died in the recent bushfires in New South Wales, Australia, in the latest blow to the marsupials, conservationists said.

An assessment of the animals in New South Wales estimates almost 12% of the state’s population perished in devastating fires from October to January – with a warning the real figure is likely to be higher.

The study for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (Ifaw) also warned that up to two thirds of the koala population has been lost in the past three generations due to drought, bushfires and human activity.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

Wildlife campaigners described the situation as a “koala emergency” and have called for urgent protection measures for the species, which is considered to be “vulnerable” to extinction.

They want New South Wales koalas to be given an emergency “endangered” listing to increase their protection.

Climate chaos and the wildfires it’s made worse pose an immediate, ongoing and significant threat of extinction to the koala population in the state, the report argues.

It comes after 5.1 million hectares (12.6 million acres) of land burned in New South Wales as bushfires ravaged swathes of Australia.

Josey Sharrad, IFAW wildlife campaigner, said: “Koalas were already living on the brink before these fires, with populations declining in many areas due to excessive land clearing, disease and roadkill and local extinctions already known to have occurred.

“This disaster and the ongoing nature of the threats could push koalas over the edge.

And she said: “This is a koala emergency.

“Koalas must be immediately uplisted to endangered on an emergency basis and a moratorium on all harmful activities impacting koalas enforced to allow surviving populations some breathing space while their capacity to recover is further assessed.”

Australia bushfires
The Grose Valley fire in the Blue Mountains area of Lithgow and Blackheath, New South Wales (MoD)

The analysis covered 15 weeks from 1 October 2019, to 10 January 2020, and is described as a “conservative” estimate.

The conservationists also warned that further assessment to cover the month to 10 February means final figures are expected to be even worse.

And they said the hundreds of thousands of hectares of habitat that is not burnt but had been rendered unsuitable for koalas as a result of dry conditions had not been taken into account.

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us