How the devastating bushfires in Australia are affecting koalas


Jenna Hunter, Editor in Chief


          Since October of 2019, the Australian bushfires have continued to grow and show no signs of slowing down. These fires have left thousands of people homeless and caused the destruction of more than 12.3 million acres of land, the deaths of 25 people, and over one billion animal deaths. 

One animal species that has been hit particularly hard are koalas. One of the most affected regions, New South Wales, estimated that a third of their total koala population had been killed due to the fires. One large reason the koala population has been affected so much compared to other species is the rate at which they move. Their slow moving demeanor makes it incredibly difficult to escape the bushfires that have wiped out 30% of their home. Also, another reason the koala species is struggling has to do with their main diet being eucalyptus. Eucalyptus plant leaves contain a large amount of highly flammable oils which makes it easier for koalas to burn.  

Koalas have become desperate in these high stakes situations with many of them approaching humans for help. Countless videos of people helping koalas by giving them water have been posted to various different social media platforms. In these videos, koalas can be seen immediately accepting the aid of people and desperately drinking as much as they can due to severe dehydration and burns. One such video was posted to instagram by cyclist Anna Heuseler. “This koala walked right up to me as I was descending and climbed up onto my bike while I gave him water. Best thing to happen to me on a ride ever,” Heuseler said. Heuseler claimed that the koala approached them and climbed onto one of the cyclists bikes in an apparent cry for help in the unbearable heat. Heuseler gave him water which he enthusiastically accepted. 

Koalas, along with many other animals in danger, have been transported to different animal rehabilitation centers and hospitals to help them heal from any injuries and give them a safe place to stay during the fires. Once the fires calm down, they will be released back into what’s left of their home. However, many worry about what will become of the animals after the fires as they have destroyed much of their natural habitat. One of the biggest fears at the moment is the animals will starve from lack of resources in the aftermath of the bushfires. However, there will be no telling how the animals will adapt to the new environment until after the fires have died down. 

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