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Desert Turtles are Burning in the Australian Wildfires

Por Larissa Miller 08 Jan 2020

1 Billion Animals Have Reportedly Died in Australia’s Wildfires

Many people know about the koalas and kangaroos, but did you know that 75% of the animals that have been killed in the fires are reptiles including the desert tortoise? 

PI Yoga Pants Turtoise Turtle Australia Bushfires Animals in Danger

Colin Beale added, "Although it is hard to find estimates of how well reptiles survive fires, in similar areas of Australia the majority of these reptiles live in the soil with a slim chance of survival.” (1) Some animals are primarily killed directly by the fires by being incinerated in flames or choking on smoke. Others who were rescued but still burned may suffer injuries that are simply too extensive to survive.

Tortoise Bush fires Australia Incinerate in Flame Danger Animals Catastrophe

It estimated that there was an average of 17.5 mammals, 20.7 birds and 129.5 reptiles per hectare (10,000 square meters, so a square 100m on each side - about the size of a football field). They've then multiplied that by the amount of land hit by the fires. "We've estimated that in the three million hectares of New South Wales alone that were burned up until about 10 days ago probably as many as 1 billion mammals, birds and reptiles would have been affected by the fires," Prof Dickman said. (1)

These animals' recovery depends not only on their population size, but also on the condition of their habitat. For instance, plants grow slower in high-altitude alpine regions, meaning it could be a very long time before species are able to return. Sometimes, even if a habitat heals, the animals don't come back. In 1993, a fire in New South Whales' Royal National Park wiped out the greater gliders (a type of lemur-like gliding marsupial) that lived there. "The population is effectively gone," Dickman said. (2)

Australia Bush fires killing millions of animals

It's not that animals are unprepared for natural disasters; they've been dealing with fires for millennia. But human interference has changed everything. We have fragmented natural environments with cities and residential areas, cleared land for our use, and introduced invasive species making it harder for native species to recolonize after fires. (2)

Perhaps the most devastating human factor has been the climate crisis, which experts say has made natural disasters go from bad to worse. Australia is experiencing one of its most severe droughts in decades and a heatwave in December broke the record for highest nationwide average temperature, with some places sweltering under temperatures well above 40 degrees Celsius (about 113-120 degrees Fahrenheit). (2) To learn what you can do to reduce your climate change footprint, see our prior blog ‘3 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint’.

Koalas in danger in Australia bush fires


Some threatened and endangered species face total extinction as a result of the wildfires including the corroboree frog, the mountain pygmy-possum and the glossy black cockatoo. Since the fires began, flying foxes have reportedly been admitted to animal hospital at colossally high rates, and koalas have lost more than 30 percent of their habitat in New South Wales, according to federal environment minister Sussan Ley. (3)

Australia Bush fires Kangaroo escaping fire

Officials warned on Monday that the fires, which have resisted containment since the fall, will only get worse, with some of them joining together into a “mega blaze” before the week’s end. (3)

The time to help is now! Show your support before Friday to get as many hands on deck to help. 

Australia bush fire help donate volunteer


Donate to any of the following organizations to help save Australian wildlife from the fires:


Volunteering helping koala and animals in danger Australia bush fires

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