Thanks to your support, Dr Valentina Mella and her research team have been able to continue their research into the safeguarding of koalas against climate change.
Unfortunately, the plight of koalas has worsened due to the catastrophic bush fires currently wreaking havoc across Australia.
"Koalas have always been affected by fire but the problem these days is that the koala is a vulnerable species, facing many different threats," says Dr Mella.
"The added impact of fire might have catastrophic effects on koala populations. Koala numbers have already been declining in NSW because of habitat fragmentation, Chlamydial disease (which causes infertility), climate change and mortality related to urbanisation, such as vehicle strikes or domestic dog attacks.
"Now, more than 80 bushfires have destroyed thousands of hectares of good koala habitat, with hundreds of koalas feared dead. Koalas that live in already fragmented habitats (like urban areas near Port Macquarie) and survive the fires, will struggle to find available habitat to recolonise."
Dr Mella, who is a wildlife management expert, says you can take two important steps to help the species:
- Ensure you put water out for affected wildlife. Koalas are not the only animals affected by fire: birds, possums, gliders, wallabies are also victims and will likely be severely dehydrated.
- Support your local wildlife volunteers with donations or by notifying them if you see injured wildlife. When it is safe to do so, you can help your local wildlife volunteer group estimate the loss of wildlife in the area by conducting species counts (transects) in burnt areas. This is precious information to determine the effects of fire on koala numbers.
Thank you for your continued support to Dr Mella’s research. We hope to update you again soon.