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Know About the Impact of Bushfires in Australia on Wildlife

Wildlife Catastrophe Caused by Australian Bushfires

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kangaroo Australia
An injured kangaroo with a joey in its pouch, limps through burnt bushland in Cobargo, Australia. VOA

By Phil Mercer

More than 1 billion animals have been killed in bushfires in the Australian state of New South Wales, according to leading wildlife experts.

Bushfires have had a terrible impact on Australia. Lives have been lost, thousands of homes destroyed and vast areas of land incinerated. The disaster has also had catastrophic consequences for animals. Images of badly burned koalas, Australia’s famous furry marsupials, have come to define the severity of the fire emergency.

The University of Sydney has estimated that more than 1 billion mammals, birds and reptiles, as well as “hundreds of billions” of insects have died in the fires. Experts have warned that “for some species we are looking at imminent extinction.”

Vets and volunteers Australia
Vets and volunteers treat koalas at Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park on Kangaroo Island, southwest of Adelaide, Australia. VOA

They also fear that animals that have survived the fires by fleeing or seeking safety underground will return to areas that will not have the food, water or shelter to support them.

Saving the zoo animals

At zoos and wildlife reserves, staff risked their lives protecting the animals in their care.

As fires tore through the town of Mogo on the New South Wales south coast on New Year’s Eve, there were grave fears for the animals at the local zoo. Remarkably, they all survived, but the property is badly damaged.

Chad Staples, the head keeper, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation about his decision to stay to fight the flames.

“We have a lot of damaged fences,” he said. “The good thing is that we saved every single animal, there is no injuries, there’s no sickness. We had to stay here and protect them. We knew that this was the best place that we, if we worked hard, could make this a safe place. But, yeah, of course, I think everyone, at [a] different point, was scared out of their wits.”

Farm animals perish

Tens of thousands of farm animals also have likely died in the bushfire disaster.

Farmers have been forced to euthanize injured stock. The losses could run into the millions of dollars.

Only when the fires clear will Australia be able to more accurately assess the full extent of the damage on livestock and wildlife.

Dozens of fires continue to burn across several Australian states.

Australia Wildfires
A koala drinks water from a bottle given by a firefighter in Cudlee Creek, South Australia. VOA

Saving the zoo animals

At zoos and wildlife reserves, staff risked their lives protecting the animals in their care.

As fires tore through the town of Mogo on the New South Wales south coast on New Year’s Eve, there were grave fears for the animals at the local zoo. Remarkably, they all survived, but the property is badly damaged.

Chad Staples, the head keeper, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation about his decision to stay to fight the flames.

“We have a lot of damaged fences,” he said. “The good thing is that we saved every single animal, there is no injuries, there’s no sickness. We had to stay here and protect them. We knew that this was the best place that we, if we worked hard, could make this a safe place. But, yeah, of course, I think everyone, at [a] different point, was scared out of their wits.”

Farm animals perish

Tens of thousands of farm animals also have likely died in the bushfire disaster.

Farmers have been forced to euthanize injured stock. The losses could run into the millions of dollars.

Also Read- Pneumonia Outbreak in China Due to Newly Discovered Virus: Health Officials

Only when the fires clear will Australia be able to more accurately assess the full extent of the damage on livestock and wildlife.

Dozens of fires continue to burn across several Australian states. (VOA)

Next Story

Snake is the Most Probable Wildlife Animal Reservoir of Novel Coronavirus: Study

Snake was one of the animals being sold in Wuhan's Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market before its closure.

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Snake is the most probable wildlife animal reservoir for the novel coronavirus that had caused 17 deaths in central China's Hubei Province. (Representational Image). Pixabay

A study published on Wednesday in the Journal of Medical Virology showed that snake is the most probable wildlife animal reservoir for the novel coronavirus that had caused 17 deaths in central China’s Hubei Province.

Scientists from Peking University Health Science Center School of Basic Medical Sciences, the First affiliated Hospital of Guangxi University of Chinese Medicine, Ruikang Hospital Affiliated to Guangxi University of Chinese Medicine, Ningbo University’s School of Medicine, and Wuhan University of Bioengineering carried out a comprehensive analysis on the existing sequences of the newly identified coronavirus, the Xinhua news agency reported.

They used a method called “relative synonymous codon usage” (RSCU) bias to compare RNA sequences of different animal species.

Snake was one of the animals being sold in Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market before its closure. The market is believed to be related to most of the infected cases.

Snake
Snake was one of the animals being sold in Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market before its closure. The market is believed to be related to most of the infected cases. Pixabay

Results obtained from the analyses suggested that the new virus 2019-nCoV appeared to be a recombinant virus between the bat coronavirus and an origin-unknown coronavirus.

The recombination occurred within the viral spike glycoprotein, which recognizes cell surface receptor. Additionally, their findings suggested that snake is the most probable wildlife animal reservoir for the 2019-nCoV based on its RSCU bias resembling snake compared to other animals.

Taken together, the research results suggested that homologous recombination within the spike glycoprotein may contribute to cross-species transmission from snake to humans.

Also Read- New Locust Swarms Threaten Agriculture in Ethiopia

Glycoprotein is a group of conjugated proteins containing small amounts of carbohydrates.

Chinese health authorities have posted the full genome of 2019-nCoV in the genetic sequence database of U.S. National Institutes of Health and the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (IANS)