At least 8,000 koalas were killed in the ongoing fires in Australia. The Australian environment minister Sussan Ley said on Friday that around 30 percent of the habitat of the “iconic species” has disappeared in the region where the most severe fires are raging.
The actual number of casualties among the koalas is probably much higher, but due to the intensity of the fires, their remains will never be found, experts say. In the hard-hit state of New South Wales alone, 15,000 to 28,000 koala bears live.
Gloomy predictions about the extinction of koala bear are contradicted by the government, even though there was already a steady decline in numbers before the outbreaks of the fires.
In the first decade of this century, the koala population across the country fell by more than 40 percent according to official figures. The decline has continued rapidly in the current decade, according to conservationists.
One of them, James Tremain, told the British newspaper The Guardian: “We are destroying thousands of hectares of their forests for the benefit of agriculture or timber trade.”
Environment minister Ley says that she receives worried messages from around the world about the deaths of koalas. However, there are also videos in circulation showing that koalas can escape the fires, either on their own or thanks to firefighters.