MELBOURNE – The Australian government committed A$50 million (S$46 million) to an emergency wildlife recovery programme on Monday (Jan 13), calling the bush fire crisis engulfing the country “an ecological disaster” that threatens several species, including koalas and rock wallabies.
Huge wildfires have razed more than 11.2 million hectares, nearly half the area of the United Kingdom, destroying or severely damaging the habitats of several native animals.
Some estimates suggest as many as a billion animals, including livestock and domestic pets, have either died in the blazes or are at risk in their aftermath due to a lack of food and shelter.
“This has been an ecological disaster, a disaster that is still unfolding,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told reporters on Monday as he visited the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, where 45 koalas were being treated for burns.
“We know that our native flora and fauna have been very badly damaged.”