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Australia Koala population at 'tipping point' after Australian bushfire crisis, donations soar amid outpouring of overseas support

03:40  26 november  2019
03:40  26 november  2019 Source:   abc.net.au

Ley calls on koala experts post bushfires

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Devastating bushfires in Australia have left koalas ‘functionally extinct’, experts now believe. With such a small population , the koala can’t play a significant role in their ecosystem, which makes This comes as an online fundraiser for the injured koalas has received more donations than any other

Australia ’s crippling bushfires have decimated koalas ’ natural habitat, leaving them ‘functionally According to Deborah Tabart, chairman of the Australian Koala Foundation, the fires have taken the Functional extinction is when a species’ population dwindles to such a low number that they no

a koala bear looking at the camera: Jalu recovers at the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital after he was rescued from bushfires. (Facebook: Currumbin Wildlife Hospital)© Provided by Australian Broadcasting Corporation Jalu recovers at the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital after he was rescued from bushfires. (Facebook: Currumbin Wildlife Hospital)

As the nation suffered through an unprecedented number of bushfires this month, the plight of the koala has been front-page news abroad leading to an outpouring of public support.

Images of the furry creatures with charred skin, blackened paws and clear symptoms of dehydration have dominated much of the recent overseas coverage, becoming a cultural symbol of the crisis.

One viral video showed a woman in just her underwear running through burning bushland to save a koala.

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  Close to $1M raised for Australian wildlife caught in bushfires Incredible stories of human kindness have emerged during the bushfire crisis currently gripping the nation. A staggering $938,000 has been raised for animals injured in the blazes, with a new wild koala breeding program to be established in New South Wales.Pictures: Bushfires leave devastating trail across NSW Donations poured in for the Port Macquarie Hospital's Go Fund Me page where the initial goal was to raise $25,000 and buy automatic drinking stations for koalas and other wildlife.

Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia , is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands.

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The shocking imagery has led to several foreign reports that koalas are "functionally extinct" as a result of the bushfires.

However, the marsupials have been under threat for much longer.

Research has shown koalas are on track to be extinct by 2050 in New South Wales if land clearing rates continue.

But with a changing climate and early start to an extreme bushfire season, will they even make it that long? One of Australia's leading wildlife organisations says they won't.

The bushfires' toll on koalas

The bushfires wreaked havoc across the country, destroying hundreds of thousands of hectares and leaving behind an untold number of dead and injured wildlife.

Nicole Blums, of The Rescue Collective, a volunteer organisation which works directly with the wildlife hospitals and carers in NSW and Queensland, estimated 1,000 koalas had been killed.

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  Koala hospital's GoFundMe campaign raises more than $1m in wake of bushfire devastation An online fundraising appeal set up by a New South Wales koala hospital to rescue and rehabilitate marsupials devastated by bushfires raises more than $1 million, in what is believed to be one of the most successful GoFundMe campaigns in Australia.Port Macquarie Koala Hospital's had by Thursday night raised $1,078,000 on GoFundMe, eclipsing the initial stated target of $25,000.

Australia is one of the worst performing countries in terms of protecting its ecoregions. Koalas are a litmus test for conservation of a habitat in crisis . Support The Guardian. Support our journalism with a year-end gift.

A South Australian fireman found a baby koala by the side of the road in the bushfire zone, trying to climb a tree to escape. Covered in ash, the little Native animals are extremely vulnerable in harsh Australian conditions, with "hundreds of thousands, if not millions" of animals thought to have died in

"The breeding ground in Port Macquarie specifically was a really intense breeding ground and the whole entire thing is gone," she said.

Ms Blums said the level of devastation varied but in areas with fast-moving fires, there was "nothing left".

"It's like Ground Zero. There is nothing at all," she said.

"Then we're getting into other areas where the fire moved a little bit slower through and that's where the carers and the black walkers are finding more bodies.

"They are finding a lot of animals that have passed away but they have also found a lot more that are suffering.

"One of the people I work with at Queensland Wildlife found a kangaroo that [had] its entire feet burnt off. The kangaroo was still alive and obviously needed to be euthanised."

Ms Blums said what that meant for the future of koala population's at this stage was unclear but the species was in dire straits.

"If we go back a year or so ago we were saying koala's were at the level of extinction that without humans capturing them and having breeding programs, they would become extinct," she said.

Koala hospital raises more than $1million to help suffering animals injured in terrifying bushfires raging across Australia

  Koala hospital raises more than $1million to help suffering animals injured in terrifying bushfires raging across Australia The campaign launched by Port Macquarie Koala Hospital aimed to raise money to buy automatic drinking stations for animals living in areas devastated by fires. The initial fundraising goal was $25,000, but $1.146million has now been raised from more than 25,500 donations.About 350 have died in the bushfires raging in New South Wales and Queensland.

Because there is only one population of Pacific bluefin tuna, and it migrates thousands of miles across the ocean, the fishery commission in the east must also work with its counterpart in the west to develop and implement a comprehensive, basin-wide rebuilding plan to prevent a total collapse of the fishery.

Portrait of Icarius an adult male koala ( Phascolarctos cinereus ) eating an Eucalyptus leaf at Could support efforts to urge our governments to stop excessive tree-clearing that destroys koala habitats All donations of or more to WWF- Australia are tax-deductible. For your convenience we will send

"They couldn't survive on their own and that was before these fires so I guess, we are expecting that the koalas after this event will be no longer endangered but at some level of extinction."

The Wildlife Hospital Network, a statewide network of animal carers, said it has received a combined total of 50 koalas from the recent fires in Queensland.

The RSPCA reported 29 koalas, Currumbin Wildlife Hospital said it received 20 koalas and Australia Zoo said it had one in care.

The RSPCA said survivors were continuing to be found at Toowoomba, Jimna and Mt Barney, and more animals were expected in the coming days.

The RSPCA's Eumundi centre will be affected and it's likely Currumbin and Australia Zoo would take in more fire victims as well.

"Sadly not all of them make it through," RSPCA Queensland spokesperson Michael Beatty said.

"Some are already suffering from other issues and the fire and smoke exacerbate those. It's very sad as in some areas the scale of the casualties will never be known because of the intensity and speed of the fires."

Most of the injuries to the koalas were caused by direct heat and smoke inhalation.

Could this be the end of koalas? Expert claims Australia's beloved marsupial is 'functionally extinct' after bushfires destroyed 80 per cent of their natural habitat and killed thousands

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Koala population at risk as fires devastate Australian states. PORT MACQUARIE, NSW, Australia - The catastrophic bushfires raging across parts of the Australian states of New South Wales and FBI lauds its new National Threat Operations Center.

Koalas and Australia 's Bushfire . The Australian bushfires are bringing the Australian koalas on the brink of extinction. Australian Bushfires Responsible for Koalas ' Extinction Bushfires have Caused Koalas ' Population Decline Bushfires on Yearly Basis Kill Hundreds of Koalas Koalas are Slow

Across the border in New South Wales, it's estimated a higher number of koalas are in care with more than 1 million hectares of land razed this year by bushfires.

Besides koalas, this network has treated approximately 40 other animals directly affected by fire, species in care include a range of possums, birds and reptiles.

The RSPCA has treated 14 animals, Currumbin's treated approximately 20 and Australia Zoo has treated six animals.

The Currumbin Wildlife hospital last year treated 477 koalas in total.

This year — partly due to bushfires — there has been a 22 per cent increase, with koalas experiencing injuries such as singed foot pads or breathing problems due to smoke inhalation.

The hospital said the increase was also the result of drought, with animals being dehydrated and malnourished.

What's being done to save them?

Donations have been flooding in to wildlife hospitals and carer organisations as images emerged of the injured and distressed creatures.

The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital hoped to raise $25,000, but at the time of publication the fundraising tally stands at $1.5 million.

The bushfire crisis, and its impact on koalas — listed as vulnerable in Australia — prompted Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley to call an "urgent" meeting of land management experts in Brisbane last week.

'Lewis' the koala rescued from a NSW bushfire has died

  'Lewis' the koala rescued from a NSW bushfire has died Ellenborough Lewis, a badly burnt koala that was rescued from a NSW bushfire, has been put to sleep after his burns worsened overnight. Lewis received worldwide attention after NSW grandmother Toni Doherty was filmed by a 9News cameraman rushing into burning bushland in Port Macquarie to rescue the marsupial, estimated to be 14 years old."We were there this morning. We are naturally very sad about this, as we were hoping he'd pull through but we accept his injuries were severe and debilitating and would have been quite painful," Peter Doherty told 9News.com.au, speaking on behalf of his wife Toni.

Nationally, the Australian Koala Foundation believes the koala population — which is concentrated across Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, is less than 80,000. In addition to koalas , tree-clearing victims include mammals like the feathertail glider, a range of native birds and countless

A wild koala ( Phascolarctos cinereus ) climbing in its natural habitat of gum trees © Shutterstock Koalas are an integral part of the Australian bush – perched high up in the branches of gum trees All donations of or more to WWF- Australia are tax-deductible. For your convenience we will send

Healthy Land and Water spokesman Paul Donatiu said it was a landmark meeting.

"It was a chance to really look at koala conservation in the context of a changing climate, with the fires and what we can do in the immediate future, but also in the next three years to deliver some outcomes for the species," Mr Donatiu said.

The Federal Government has allocated $6 million towards koala initiatives in northern New South Wales and South East Queensland.

Mr Donatiu said he would like to see additional resources to help landholders protect critical habitat.

"Whether it's as simple as having the resources to put in fire breaks, to be able to deal with weeds, and to reduce the intensity of fire that sometimes weed can exacerbate," he said.

"It's just practical actions like that on the ground that we are interested in helping affect in our region and also in parts of northern New South Wales."

Ms Blums said a collaborative and proactive approach from all stakeholders was required in emergency wildlife situations.

"When there is legislation in place there is definitely something to fall back on … but a lot of the little people are forgotten about in this situation," she said.

"They're the people with 47 joeys in their house caring for them that have come from the fires."

She said wildlife hospitals were also struggling amid the influx of injured animals.

"The one at Australia Zoo, the one at Currumbin, they don't even have the right equipment or enough equipment to be able to cope with this.

"Some hospitals are prioritising cases, they're not able to treat how they normally would, they're being very resourceful with how to save these animals," she said.

Koala mother Ainslee and her joey Rupert who won hearts around the world when they were found huddled together amid raging bushfires are set to be released back into the wild

  Koala mother Ainslee and her joey Rupert who won hearts around the world when they were found huddled together amid raging bushfires are set to be released back into the wild Mother koala Ainslee was found cradling her joey Rupert in out-of-control bushfires in Canungra in September.Mother koala Ainslee was found cradling her joey Rupert as out-of-control blazes destroyed their habitat in Canungra in September.

Support The Guardian. Bushfires are threatening small communities in NSW’s central west near the town of Dunedoo. Conditions rated as “catastrophic” left New South Wales firefighters battling dozens of blazes across the state with fears dozens of properties could be lost.

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She would also like to see more funding towards wildlife hospitals and conservation efforts from the Government.

"I don't think it will be fixed overnight but the government, wildlife carers and organisations need to come together to work out a really good plan for the future because otherwise we'll be left without our national emblems," she said.

Conservation efforts part of future plan

Bear is one of only a handful of dogs in Australia trained to detect koalas as part of a conservation effort and has travelled thousands of kilometres throughout Queensland and New South Wales.

International Fund for Animal Welfare wildlife campaigner Josey Sharrad said "these catastrophic events are just going to increase with frequency and intensity unfortunately".

"Dogs like Bear are an integral part of those search and rescue efforts — I think conservation dogs are the future," Ms Sharrad said.

"Koala populations across South East Queensland and New South Wales are a tipping point and this catastrophic event could actually push them over the edge," she said.

"Every individual that we can save and release back into the wild is critical."

Once rehabilitated, treated koalas are returned to their natural habitat at, or close to, their point of rescue.

If there is a high probability that a koala will suffer a serious injury or death if released back into its original habitat, the koala will be released in another area that has been assessed as suitable.

Departmental approval is required for releases further than 5 kilometres from the rescue location.

Each koala is micro-chipped so that it can be identified in the future.

Sightings of all sick, injured, orphaned and deceased koalas in South East Queensland should be reported to RSPCA on 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625).

At Microsoft News Australia we've partnered with the giving platform Benevity to raise funds for Australian Red Cross, St Vincent De Paul Society and The Salvation Army; these organisations are helping communities across the country devastated by bushfires. You can help these organisations by donating here and for the latest news and RFS links visit Bushfire emergency.

Koala hospital's appeal for drinking station funds amid deadly bushfires makes Australian GoFundMe history .
The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital is overwhelmed with the success of a funding plea raising almost 73 times its goal, the most successful Australian campaign in history.The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital is overwhelmed with the success of a GoFundMe campaign that has now raised almost 73 times its initial goal — becoming the largest campaign in Australia in the process.

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