A large area of the 1,700-square mile Kangaroo Island — lying southwest of Adelaide, off the mainland of South Australia — is protected as nature reserves that boasted a number of extremely rare and localised fauna and flora in Australia. But this was before bush fires consumed an estimated 600 square miles, or one third, of the island, according to NASA.
According to official figures, the fires that started in late December, have so far killed two people, destroyed 56 homes and damaged hundreds of buildings, and it’s not over yet for Australia’s third largest Island.
What makes the bush fires here so alarming is not the scale area, but the devastation it has caused to the wildlife there. The blazes that have concentrated in the biodiversity-rich western areas have resulted in significant wildlife losses. Most of the Flinders Chase National Park, a popular tourist destination on the island, has been burnt.
What makes the bush fires here so alarming is not the scale area, but the devastation it has caused to the wildlife there. The blazes that have concentrated in the biodiversity-rich western areas have resulted in significant wildlife losses.”
The Kangaroo Island is home to kangaroos, koalas, echidnas, the duck-billed platypus and many species of birds. It is estimated that up to half of the koala population — a staggering 25,000 — on the island is gone. But the greatest fear for ecologists is for the endangered mouse-like marsupial, the Kangaroo Island dunnart, and the glossy black-cockatoo. Almost the entire area where the dunnarts lived has burned down.
The endangered mouse-size dunnart is the most special mammal on Kangaroo Island because it is only found there and was rarely sighted.
As for the glossy black cockatoo, a unique subspecies, it took two decades of community conservation work to bring it back from the brink of extinction when its numbers fell as low as 150, to as high as 400 in latest counts. How many of these two rare and endangered animals remain is hard to tell right now.
But with thousands of wildlife gone on the Kangaroo Island as well as large areas of their habitats destroyed, it is going to be a tough struggle for survival for the remaining ones — if there are any left.