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Australia's Wildlife Threatened by Feral Animals after Bushfires

Australia's Wildlife Threatened by Feral Animals after Bushfires

Saturday, 18 January, 2020 - 06:15
Adelaide wildlife rescuer Simon Adamczyk carries a rescued koala at a burning forest near Cape Borda, on Kangaroo Island, southwest of Adelaide, Australia, on January 7, 2020. (Reuters)
Canberra - Asharq Al-Awsat

Australia's notorious feral animals, like cats and foxes, are some of the biggest threats to vulnerable wildlife hit hard by recent bushfires, authorities said on Thursday.

The bushfires across all six Australia states have already burned more than 11.8 million hectares of land. It has been particularly disastrous for the wildlife, with scientists estimating more than 1 billion animals have been killed.

Australia's federal government already announced putting aside 50 million dollars (34.5 million US dollars) for a wildlife and habitat recovery package.

Sally Box, Australia's threatened species commissioner, who is heading the wildlife efforts, said on Thursday that the government will focus on both immediate action to protect the vulnerable species that have survived the fires and a long-term restoration effort, the German news agency reported.

She told Australia's ABC radio that one of the first priorities will be to protect vulnerable species from the "additional impact" of feral predators.

"We certainly know that after a fire that our native species are more vulnerable to predation by cats and foxes. Native animals will have lost much of their shelter, their cover that they can hide under after a fire," she said.

Box added that "a large number of threatened species have been in the path of these fires over southeastern Australia," but it will be some time before the extent of the impact will be known.

An Aboriginal volunteer firefighter on Thursday called on all state and federal governments to launch "an all-out attack on feral animals in fire zones scorched by this summer's catastrophic bushfires".

Scientists say feral cats are responsible for driving about two dozen Australian mammals towards extinction since their introduction to the continent 200 years ago.

According to the Australian environment department, there are already less than 100 critically endangered species whose extinction is imminent, but not all have been in the path of the recent bushfires.

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