Wildfires Taking Over Australia

Since September of 2019, wild bush fires have been engulfing a large portion of Australia. These fires have taken over nearly 18 million acres of the continents surface – killing 28 people nationwide. Wildfires like these are extremely common during this time for Australia, and this is not the first time the people of Australia have had to deal with a situation like this.  The last time the fires in the country were this extreme was during  the Black Saturday Bushfires in 2009 – which killed 173 people alone. Australians haven’t dealt with wild bush fires like these in nearly a decade.

Map of fires in Australia.

New South Wales

Due to the dryness and extreme heat, the state of New South Wales has been hit harder than any other part of the continent. Nearly 200 homes have been destroyed leaving many residents homeless. As of January 1, 2020, seven people were confirmed dead in New South Wales, along with one confirmed dead in Victoria.

Australian police predict several citizens have also contributed to the wild fires. So far the police of New South Wales have charged 24 people for intentionally setting bush fires around the country. These people are setting small scale fires in attempt to clear the land of extra debris that may fuel the wildfires even further. This type of practice is an Aboriginal technique that has been around for 50,000 years. Bill Gammage, a historian and professor at Australian National University, claims, “Some of it is being done, but not skillfully enough,” he said. “We don’t really take into account plants and animals that might be endangered by fire. And secondly, we don’t really know what’s the best time of year, how much burn, how to break up a fire front.” This technique is damaging the land further, and making taking authorities focus away from the initial fire.

Wildlife

The wildfires alone have killed over 1 billion animals, not to mention the ones that “are not taken into account” when civilians are trying to fight the fire with more fire. Many of these animals are  endangered, and at risk of extinction. These endangered species include: the glossy black-cockatoo, kangaroos, koalas, and brush-tailed rock-wallaby.

Many organizations throughout Australia are helping to rescue and rehabilitate every animal they can during this horrible disaster. “It’s so devastating and heartbreaking for us to see that all across the country, vital habitats and so many animals from koalas to kangaroos to fruit bats have been displaced,” Robert Irwin, Steve Irwin’s son, said. The Irwin family helping rescue the koalas in New South Wales, is just one of the many efforts attempting to help these defenseless animals.

Kangaroo in the mist of the Australian bush fires.

James Trezise, a policy analyst at the Australian Conservation Foundation, says, “The number of species and ecosystems that have been severely impacted across their ranges is almost certain to be much higher, especially when factoring in less well-known species of reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates.” This gives the impression that wildlife in Australia is suffering greatly, and it will take quite the amount of effort to restore the wildlife even after the fires have completely diminished.

Although these are the worst brush fires Australia has seen in a while, it is very important that the people of Australia have hope. Many have already contributed to this cause, including Kylie Jenner (donating $1 million to the Australian Relief Effort) and the Red Cross. With everything going on in the world right now it’s easy to over look this unbelievable disaster, but it deserves are attention too; to donate click here!