(TMU) — Australia’s bushfire crisis has ravaged local animal and plant life as ecologists warn that the potential loss of nearly 500 million mammals, reptiles, and birds—including 8,000 koalas—could devastate the country’s biodiversity in an unprecedented manner.
Despite the terrifying scope of the tragedy, Australians have stepped up in the thousands to confront the wave of fires by putting their lives on the line in volunteer firefighting brigades, donating to animal hospitals and charities, and working around the clock to mitigate the effects of the environmental disaster.
Among those brave workers and volunteers contributing to the fight against the fires is Bindi Irwin, the daughter of late TV personality Steve Irwin. The celebrated “Crocodile Hunter” was one of Australia’s most famed figures due to his passion for environmentalist and conservationist causes before he passed away in 2006 while filming an ocean documentary.
Steve’s 21-year-old daughter has now devoted her life to continuing the family’s multi-generational legacy as “wildlife warriors” especially during the current crisis impacting animals across the country.
On Thursday, Bindi revealed on Instagram that she has been working hard alongside the staff at Australia Zoo to help treat a record-breaking influx of animal patients wounded in the firestorms. She wrote:
“With so many devastating fires within Australia, my heart breaks for the people and wildlife who have lost so much. I wanted to let you know that we are SAFE. There are no fires near us @AustraliaZoo or our conservation properties.
Our Wildlife Hospital is busier than ever though, having officially treated over 90,000 patients. My parents dedicated our Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital to my beautiful grandmother.
We will continue to honour her by being Wildlife Warriors and saving as many lives as we can.”
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With so many devastating fires within Australia, my heart breaks for the people and wildlife who have lost so much. I wanted to let you know that we are SAFE. There are no fires near us @AustraliaZoo or our conservation properties. Our Wildlife Hospital is busier than ever though, having officially treated over 90,000 patients. My parents dedicated our Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital to my beautiful grandmother. We will continue to honour her by being Wildlife Warriors and saving as many lives as we can. 💙🙏🏼
The Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital has been run by Bindi’s mother Terri Irwin since Steve’s death. According to a Yahoo Lifestyle report last month, the zoo typically treats over 8,000 sick and injured native animals per year. However, the zoo has been inundated by animals affected by the wave of bushfires raging across the country since September.
Bindi’s post comes as footage emerged showing dozens of kangaroos fleeing for their lives from the bushfires ravaging the state of New South Wales (NSW).
In the video, a large group of kangaroos can be seen hopping away in desperation across the parched grasslands near Bredbo, NSW.
Mitchell Lyons, who filmed the tragic scene, said:
“Look, they don’t know which way to run from cars, but they sure know which way to run from fire.”
Ecologists fear that the enormous loss of wildlife due to the current crisis could forever tip the balance for entire species of animals and plants. Kangaroos, koalas, wallabies, wombats, echidnas, possums, and other endemic species have been lost in numbers that remain difficult to gauge due to the ongoing crisis.
Koalas, in particular, have sustained huge losses—with some experts warning that an estimated 30 percent of the koala colony has been lost in the fires on the northeast coast.
Idaho Senate Approves Bill to Kill 90 Percent of State’s Wolves in “Brutal War”
Idaho’s legislature is swiftly moving forward with a bill that critics say would sanction a “brutal war” on wolves whereby up to 90 percent of the current wolf population would be killed in a bid to protect the interests of the state’s ranchers.
On Wednesday, the Idaho senate passed the measure by a 26-7 vote. The bill will now move forward to the House chamber, reports Associated Press.
Since teetering at the brink of endangerment years ago, wolf populations were removed from the state endangered species list in 2011. Since then, they have thrived despite Idaho allowing hundreds to be killed by hunters, trappers and state measures to control their numbers. Over the past two years, the wolf population has held steady at about 1,500.
According to federal guidelines, wolf recovery numbers require about 150 wolves in the state.
Republican supporters of the bill said during senate debates that the wolf population has grown entirely out of control, endangering the numbers of deer and elk available to hunters and harming the state economy.
“We’re supposed to have 15 packs, 150 wolves. We’re up to 1,553, was the last count, 1,556, something like that. They’re destroying ranchers. They’re destroying wildlife. This is a needed bill,” said Republican state Sen. Mark Harris.
However, critics have blasted the move as rash and potentially damaging to the state’s wildlife.
“The Idaho Senate’s sudden move to pass this bill in the eleventh hour incentivizes the cruel deaths of more than 1,000 wolves across the state,” said Andrea Zaccardi, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity.
“This brutal war on wolves must be stopped, and we urge the House to deny this bill,” Zaccardi added.
Maggie Howell, the head of the Wolf Conservation Center, also described the move as the latest in a hostile and extreme campaign against wolves that fails to take into account the creatures’ value to the local ecology.
“Beyond the wanton cruelty and devastation the passage of this bill would bring to wolves, this legislation poses a threat to wolves nationwide,” she told the New York Times. “With the Trump administration’s decision to transfer wolf management authority from the federal government to the states, Idaho’s policies can influence expectations about wildlife management beyond its borders.”
As Marine Life Flees the Equator, Global Mass Extinction is Imminent: Scientists
The waters surrounding the equator are one of the most biodiverse areas in the globe, with the tropical area rich in marine life including rare sea turtles, whale sharks, manta rays, and other creatures.
However, rampant rises in temperate have led to a mass exodus of marine species from the sensitive region – with grave implications for life on earth.
While ecologists have long seen the thriving biodiversity of equatorial species holding constant in the past few centuries, a new study by Australian researchers published in The Conversation has found that warming global temperatures are now hitting the equator hard, potentially leading to an unprecedented mass extinction event.
The researchers from the Universities of Auckland, Queensland, and the Sunshine Coast found that as waters surrounding the equator continue to heat up, the ecosystem is being disrupted and forcing species to flee toward the cooler water of the South and North Pole.
The massive changes in marine ecosystems that this entails will have a grave impact not only on ocean life – essentially becoming invasive species in their new homes – but also on the human livelihoods that depend on it.
“When the same thing happened 252 million years ago, 90 percent of all marine species died,” the researchers wrote.
To see where marine life is headed, the researchers tracked the distribution of about 49,000 different species to see what their trajectory was. The global distribution of ocean life typically resembles a bell curve, with far fewer species near the poles and more near the equator.
However, the vast alteration of the curve is already in motion as creatures flee to the poles, according to a study they published in the journal PNAS.
These changes augur major disruptions to global ecosystem as marine life scrambles in a chaotic fight for food, space, and resources – with a mass die-off and extinction of creatures likely resulting.
The research underscores the dire need for human societies to control rampant climate change before the biodiversity and ecological health of the planet is pushed past the point of no return.
Rare Creature Photographed Alive In The Wild For The First Time Ever
Advances in the methods used by researchers to watch wildlife have allowed for the photographing of a rare creature whose image had never been captured in the wild before.
Researchers in the West African nation of Togo were able to spot the rare Walter’s duiker, a rare species of petite African antelope, for the first time in the wild thanks to camera traps equipped with motion sensors.
In addition to the Walter’s duiker, the camera traps were also able to discover rare species of aardvarks and a mongoose, reports Gizmodo.
At a time when the extinction of entire species is becoming more common worldwide, such devices should help conservationists not only preserve creatures sought by bushmeat hunters but also spot rare animals whose presence is elusive for human observers. In the past, biologists were forced to rely on the same hunters for information.
“Camera traps are a game changer when it comes to biodiversity survey fieldwork,” said University of Oxford wildlife biologist Neil D’Cruze.
“I’ve spent weeks roughing it in tropical forests seemingly devoid of any large mammal species,” D’Cruze continued. “Yet when you fire up the laptop and stick in the memory card from camera traps that have been sitting there patiently during the entire trip—and see species that were there with you the entire time —it’s like being given a glimpse into a parallel world.”
The Walter’s duiker was discovered in 2010 when specimens of bushmeat were compared to other duiker specimens. The new images of the creature are the first to have been seen.
Rare species like Walter’s duiker are often not listed as “endangered” by groups like the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to a lack of data.
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