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The devastating toll of the black Australian summer of Forest fire has been exposed in a new report from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), which found that more than 60,000 koalas were affected by the unprecedented crisis.

In an interim study published in July, the wildlife fund found that nearly three billion native animals, including mammals, birds, reptiles and frogs, were in the path of the devastating flames.

The report, Impacts of the unprecedented 2019-2020 wildfires on Australian animals, is now complete and goes one step further; estimates the impacts on some individual animal species.

The team has noted that several koalas at the scene of the fire are very traumatized.
More than 60,000 koalas were affected by the forest fire crisis. (Instagram / Adelaide Koala Rescue)

It found around 143 million mammals, 2.46 billion reptiles, 181 million birds, and 51 million frogs that lived in the areas affected by the fires.

In total, more than 15,000 fires occurred in all states and resulted in a combined impact area of ​​up to 19 million hectares.

Koalas, already under pressure from land clearing, drought and cars, were particularly affected by the flames.

An injured koala receives treatment at the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Zoo. (Getty)

According to the report, the fires affected more than 41,000 koalas on South Australian Kangaroo Island, more than 11,000 in Victoria, almost 8,000 in New South Wales and almost 900 in Queensland.

Death, injury, trauma, smoke inhalation, heat stress, dehydration, loss of habitat, reduced food supply, increased risk of predation and conflict with other animals after fleeing to an unburned forest were just some of the threats they faced. native marsupials.

WWF-Australia Chief Executive Dermot O’Gorman said the number is cause for concern.

Housing developments are increasingly destroying what remains of koala habitats.
Housing developments are increasingly destroying what remains of koala habitats. (Supplied: Moreton Bay Koala Rescue)

“Sixty thousand koalas impacted is a deeply troubling number for a species that is already in trouble,” he said.

“WWF is determined to help restore wildlife and habitats, rejuvenate communities affected by wildfires, advance sustainable agriculture and prepare our country for the future.”

Dr Lily Van Eeden and Professor Chris Dickman, both from the University of Sydney, supervised the research.

His recommendations include the implementation of mapping and monitoring of plants and animals in bioregions with higher risk of future fires and the development of strategies to protect these areas during fires.

Abigail Sexton (WWF-Australia) watches the aftermath of the devastating bushfires near Surfs Beach in the Shoalhaven region that swept through on New Year's Eve 2019.
Abigail Sexton (WWF-Australia) watches the aftermath of the devastating bushfires near Surfs Beach in the Shoalhaven region that swept through on New Year’s Eve 2019. (WWF-Australia / Leonie Be)

“We didn’t have a lot of data for some animals. More research is needed on how many animals there are and their ability to survive at different levels of fire intensity. We need to understand this to protect species more effectively,” Dr. Van said. Eeden said.

“People have been shocked by our research and told me ‘we cannot allow catastrophes of this magnitude to continue in the future,'” said Professor Dickman, who is also a board member of WWF-Australia.

“With long-term monitoring we would be in a much better position to know where and when to act and what resources are needed to save species at risk.”

A bold plan to double the number of koalas in eastern Australia

O’Gorman also announced a bold vision to double the number of koalas in eastern Australia by 2050.

A koala is seen resting in a tree in Swan Bay, NSW.
A koala is seen resting in a tree in Swan Bay, NSW. (WWF-Australia / Douglas Throne)

“Koalas Forever includes a trial of seed dispersal drones to create koala corridors and the establishment of a fund to encourage owners to create safe havens for koalas,” he explained.

“It is part of WWF’s Regenerate Australia scheme, the largest and most innovative wildlife and landscape regeneration program in Australian history.

Victorian residents are now returning home to the Wye River and Separation Creek fire zones, where more than 100 properties were lost.  (AAP)

IN PHOTOS: Residents return to scenes of devastation after Victoria bushfires

“Nearly three billion affected animals is a number that is off the charts and shows why a plan on this scale is needed.”


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