As we’ve seen on television and internet news, bushfires are causing major devastation to both the vegetation and animal-life that are unique to Australia.
Robert Irwin, son of the late, famous Aussie animal advocate Steve Irwin, also has grave concerns about the long term impact of the fires. As his mother, Terri Irwin, discussed the horrendous loss of hundreds of thousands koalas with the television program Sunrise, Robert struggled to contain his tears.
The Irwin family has already helped 90,000 animals, but it is being widely reported that nearly a billion animals have been affected by the fires. Veterinarians and other experts from Australian zoos are among those leading the effort to rescue and treat injured animals.
Terri told Sunrise, “We’re able to offer a safe haven for wildlife needing help.” Robert also spoke of the many different injuries they’ve seen not only in koalas, but platypuses, possums, birds and other species coming through their facility.
As he listened to his mom speak about the hard hit the koala population is currently taking, 16-year old Robert’s eyes filled with tears.
To escape the smoke and flames, koalas are retreating to even more dangerous and populated areas. Some are getting hit by cars or attacked by other animals.
Others are retreating up into highly flammable eucalyptus trees. Terri explains the horrific danger in this:
Koala instinct is to go up, as safety is in the top of the tree. Eucalyptus trees have so much oil that they ignite and actually explode in a fire. That means being able to treat and help koalas is few and far between because they’re basically incinerated.
Anyone can see the thought of these koalas suffering so is heartbreaking to Robert.
It’s become increasingly likely that koalas will soon have to be listed as endangered.
We can feel the weariness of the Irwins and the rest of Australia, and we look for an end to these devastating fires. Unfortunately, as climate change causes weather patterns to change, Australia may be in for less rain and more heat, making an already incendiary situation much worse. This fire season has been horrific, but it may also be closer to the new normal.