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Australia wildfires: ‘You can’t walk 10 metres without coming across another carcass,’ says animal charity

Scenes on Kangaroo Island ‘nothing short of apocalyptic’, says Humane Society International

Zoe Tidman
Tuesday 14 January 2020 11:37 GMT
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Rescuers search for animals on Kangaroo Island amid wildfire devestation

Parts of Australia are littered with animal carcasses as wildfires continue to devastate the country, an animal charity has said.

“I can barely describe it,” says Evan Quartermain from Humane Society International. “In some places you can’t walk 10 metres without coming across another carcass.”

The charity has rescued animals on Kangaroo Island suffering from burns, smoke inhalation and mental trauma, as well as building food and water stations for unharmed animals.

The island – famous for its natural wildlife – is “utterly scorched with charred animal bodies everywhere”, according to the Humane Society International CEO.

“At one area, which was badly burned a week ago, the scenes were nothing short of apocalyptic,” Erica Martin said.

“There we only found one living koala amongst thousands of bodies of koalas, kangaroos, wallabies and birds.”

Conservationists have warned Australia’s worst ever wildfire season – which is expected to continue for several months – has already devastated the country’s wildlife.

Experts have estimated over one billion animals have been killed in blazes which have ravaged the country since September.

Some species may already gone extinct as a result of the wildfires, according to a leaked report.

Around 25,000 koalas on Kangaroo Island – half of its original population – are believed to have died, according to World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF).

As many as one third of Australia’s koalas may have been lost in the fires, the conservation group said.

WWF fears the disasters could lead to local extinctions and threaten the survival of some species, such as the glossy black-cockatoo and a knee-high kangaroo known as the long-footed potoroo.

Sussan Ley, the country’s environment minister, said there will be a review into whether certain koala populations now classify as “endangered”, according to Reuters.

The government has released $50m (£27m) fund for emergency wildlife and habitat recovery to support animal rescue and plan ahead to protect environments, the Department of the Environment and Energy has said.

Scientists have warned devastating bushfires could become “normal” if the threat of climate change is not adequately addressed.

So far, millions of acres of land has burned in the blazes raging through Australia, which have killed 28 people and torched thousands of homes.

Additional reporting by agencies

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