Advertisement

At Least 2000 Koalas Feared Dead In NSW And Queensland Bushfires

An inquiry into koala populations and habitat in NSW is expected to hear evidence that more than 2000 of the native Australian marsupials may have died on the state's north coast in recent bushfires.

The state parliament's upper house inquiry will hold an urgent hearing on Monday to discuss the extent of damage to the koala population from bushfires.

Thousands of hectares of koala habitat across northern NSW and southeast Queensland have been destroyed in the recent bushfires.

Koalas are listed as vulnerable in Queensland, NSW and the ACT, largely a result of habitat clearing.

An injured koala receives treatment after its rescue from a bushfire at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital on November 19. Image: Getty

On Sunday evening, the Rural Fire Service said there were 91 bush and grass fires in NSW, 48 of which were not contained.

North East Forest Alliance president and ecologist Dailan Pugh is expected to give evidence on Monday that more than 2000 koalas may have died and up to one third of koala habitat on the state's north coast may have been lost in the fires.

National

READ MORE

Lewis The Bushfire Rescued Koala Has Sadly Died

The Port Macquarie hospital which has been taking care of koalas rescued from the NSW bushfires has sadly confirmed that Lewis has died from his injuries after his rescue made global headlines.

Port Macquarie Koala Hospital president Sue Ashton in October estimated at least 350 koalas would have died in a bushfire in Crestwood, on the state's mid-north coast, based on a predicted 60 percent mortality rate.

A dehydrated and injured Koala receives treatment at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie. Image: Getty

Greens MP Cate Faehrmann, chair of the inquiry, said the loss of koalas should be a wake-up call.

"Today's hearing is timely and necessary. We will be hearing from some of Australia's leading experts on koalas, bushfire and climate change," Faehrmann said in a statement on Sunday.

National

READ MORE

Koala Bushfire GoFundMe Is Officially The Most Successful Aussie Fundraiser Ever

An online fundraiser for a rescue hospital that's taking care of animals that were injured in the bushfire crisis has made history to become Australia's most successful GoFundMe ever.

Port Macquarie Koala Hospital's clinical director Cheyne Flanagan and Indigenous fire practitioners are also due to give evidence, as well as representatives of the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

Christeen and Paul McLeod's home in Taree has become a makeshift burns unit, Image: Facebook via Triple J Hack

"We will also hear recommendations that must be urgently taken to ensure these fires don't lead to the irreversible decline of koalas in NSW," Faehrmann said.

"Hearing that we have lost up to a third of koala habitat and more than 2000 koalas on the North Coast is utterly devastating and should be a wakeup call for this government that they must take action to protect koala habitat."

Shona Hendley

READ MORE

Lewis The Koala Is Still A Symbol Of Hope

The image of Toni Doherty taking the shirt off her back to help the injured koala, now affectionately known as Lewis, will remain forever an iconic moment in Australia’s history.