January 3, 2020, proved to be a black Friday for the Koalas of Australia, after a massive bushfire engulfed the Kangaroo Island in South Australia, thereby wiping over half their population in the small island. By Tanvi Jain
The fire spread across 1,55,000 hectares of land and claimed two human lives as well. The blaze remained active even on January 5, after which a ‘watch and act’ alert was issued for Stokes Bay near Lathami Conservation Park on the island’s north coast. A total fire ban was also declared across Kangaroo Island.
The Penrith suburb of Sydney recorded January 4 as the hottest day with a soaring temperature of 48.9 degree Celsius.
Shocking videos of burnt bodies of millions of animals spread like a sheet, soon went viral. A convoy of army vehicles with up to 100 reservists also rushed to the island to rescue the injured animals. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the deployment of an additional 3,000 defense force reservists, and an amount of USD 2 billion for relief support.
The Queensland silver-headed antechinus, the Australasian bittern, the hip pocket frog, and the potoroo, are some of the species feared endangered after the bushfire.
The Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island, which is a major tourist attraction has also suffered structural damage as a result of the deadly fire.
So far over 300 people are waiting at a relief centre in Kingscote and over 600 properties are without electricity. As many as 500 firefighters are continuously trying to douse the flames.
Earlier in September 2019, a similar wildfire had claimed at least 23 human lives and destroyed over 1,500 homes.