Koalas In Danger


Yuri Na

     Perhaps many of you saw videos on Twitter of koalas chugging down water from cyclists and firefighters, but what if I told you that koalas rarely drink water? Australia’s Kangaroo Island, known for its protection of pristine wildlife and nature, has been burning down almost half of the 4,416 square kilometers of vegetation, devastating the inhabiting animals. The bushfire, uncontrollable fires in bushy and forested areas, has been raging since June of this year, first aroused by little rainfall and high dry seasons, both the results of climate change. As the trees start to burn out, amongst the most threatened animals are the popular gray and furry creatures: the koalas. 

     Koalas are herbivorous marsupials that inhabit in southeastern and eastern Australia. They grow to be about two to three feet tall and nine to nineteen pounds heavy. Koalas live on eucalyptus trees (gum trees) and spend most of their time sleeping, eating, and hanging around between the forks of tree branches. In addition, although there are more than 700 species of eucalyptus trees, koalas eat fewer than 50 of those types, and about one-and-a-half pounds each day. The leaves provide 90% of their hydration and thus they rarely drink water. Koalas also stay on their one chosen tree, seldom moving around for sunnier or shadier spots; the only reason to move to another tree is for a better food supply. 

     These one-and-only habitats of koalas are being destroyed. The trees fall, its leaves disintegrate, and the koalas fall to the ground and burn their skin in the torrid, devouring blazes. Their coats are singed, their nose and paws receive severe burns, and they sometimes take their lives. Rescue organizations, individuals, and the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park are saving koalas from eastern Australia. They group many veterinarians and volunteers in pop-up tents where they monitor and treat injuries with equipment such as bandages, IV drop bags, gauzes and saucers filled with iodine. A veterinary officer at the Wildlife Park, Garnett Hall described the injuries as being “like a very severe burn in a human who walked across hot coals.” It is so far estimated that about 30,000 koalas have been killed or injured from the fire. A possible way to help out the animals is by donating money to charities and organizations associated to the Australia fires. From this infamous Australia’s fire, the koalas are possibly becoming an endangered species. This fire, along with the Amazon Rainforest fire and several other natural disasters, may be the way that the Earth is using to try to warn against us humans.