Wild life devastated by Australian fires could take decades to recover
SYDNEY: Forest fires in Australia have had a devastating impact on the country's unique flora and fauna, and some estimates estimate that the death toll is almost 500 million animals in a single state, and experts believe wildlife It could take decades to recover.
Unprecedented temperatures across the continent have made this season's fires particularly deadly, killing at least 20 people and bringing apocalyptic scenes to an area roughly twice the size of Belgium.
The crisis has focused attention on climate change, which scientists say is creating a longer and more intense season of forest fires, and the Australian government has faced widespread criticism about its response and a broader environmental policy.
Heartbreaking images of desperate koalas who drink from water bottles that rescuers and kangaroos who are defenseless in villages devastated by fire and charred forests have shocked people around the world.
However, there is some hope, as experts believe that burned forests can recover in time, and decimated populations of koalas, kangaroos and other severely affected species may return.
A study by the University of Sydney estimates that 480 million animals have been killed alone in the state of New South Wales (NSW) since September 2019, and according to a statement released on Friday, the authors said mortality estimates highly Conservatives could mean that the figure could be substantially higher.
To arrive at the figure, the researchers made cross-references to population density estimates in New South Wales with areas of vegetation that have been burned to calculate the death toll, which includes mammals, birds and reptiles, but not insects, Bats or frogs.
The true loss of animal life is likely to be much higher than 480 million, the statement said.
The wildlife of New South Wales is seriously threatened and under increasing pressure from a series of threats, including land clearing, exotic pests and climate change.
Professor Andrew Beattie, of Macquarie University, near Sydney, told AFP that he believes the number of animal deaths across the country could be billions, if you think of mammals and birds, and reptiles, amphibians and let's say bigger insects like butterflies.
We can be pretty sure that in most of these very expansive fires, most of the wildlife will be dead, said Professor Emeritus of the Department of Biological Sciences.
The flora and fauna will be gone, and that includes the smaller animals that make up the food chain for the larger ones, in which people often don't think.
Koala populations have been particularly affected because they live in trees, feed only on certain types of eucalyptus, and cannot move away quickly enough from llamas.
Even before this year's wildfire crisis, the figures at NSW and Queensland had already declined by 42 percent between 1990 and 2010, according to the federal scientific committee on threatened species.
The plight of the marsupial, originally from Australia, has been raised in the parliament of the country, and the environmentalist of the Nature Conservation Council, Mark Graham, told lawmakers: The fires have burned so much and so fast that there has been a significant mortality of animals in the trees, but now there is an area so large that it is still on fire and still burning that we will probably never find the bodies.
Previous studies have found that fires do not spread evenly across the landscape, and some places are unharmed even if the surrounding areas are totally devastated.
They are those areas that are intact or have suffered less where wildlife tends to accumulate if they can get there, Beattie told AFP, adding that if there are enough, burned forests should regenerate over time, but only if conditions They improve quickly.
When asked if there was hope for the repopulation of animals in the most affected areas, Beattie said it depends on factors such as rain, weather and logging, and that habitats could take up to 40 years to return to normal.
The handling of the crisis by Prime Minister Scott Morrison has provoked fury in Australia and beyond, and Beattie said the response, particularly from the federal government, has been unfortunately slow and his attitude is still unfortunately casual.
You have federal politicians with very little knowledge of the environment, which is, since we are now discovering 'the real world', and therefore we have not perceived the next catastrophes.