Koalas likely dying by the hundreds as Australian wildfires tear across their habitat

(CNN WIRE) -

The wildfires torching southern Australia have wiped out much of the koala population, stoking fears that the national icon is getting closer to extinction.

"In what is a national tragedy, the bushfires in and around Port Macquarie in November devastated a genetically diverse koala population," Port Macquarie Koala Hospital said.

"As many as 350 koalas have perished, with approximately 75% of the fireground footprint being prime koala habitat."

The hospital established a GoFundMe account to help affected koalas recuperate.

The infernos have dealt a devastating blow to the koala population, which was already plummeting prior to this month's wildfires.

There are only about 40,000 to 100,000 koalas remaining after "uncontrolled habitat destruction," decimated the population, according to the Australia Zoo.

In addition to bushfires, habitat clearing, dog attacks and road accidents, more than 2.5 million koalas have been killed to supply the fur trade in America and Europe, the zoo said.

Koalas are now considered endangered, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species.

"We believe the wild population of koalas is critically threatened and in need of our protection," the Australia Zoo said.

The human toll from the wildfires has also been immense.

Four people have died and hundreds of homes have been destroyed.

In New South Wales, which is home to nearly 8 million people, wildfires have already burnt an area three times larger than during the entire fire season last year.

The infernos are fueled by soaring temperatures, fierce winds and the worst drought in decades have fueled the wildfires. Even worse: Summer in Australia doesn't even start until December 1.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

  • NEWSNewsMore>>

  • GOP defends Trump as Bolton book adds pressure for witnesses

    GOP defends Trump as Bolton book adds pressure for witnesses

    Monday, January 27 2020 12:16 AM EST2020-01-27 05:16:59 GMT
    Monday, January 27 2020 11:37 PM EST2020-01-28 04:37:15 GMT
    (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster). FILE - In this July 31, 2019 file photo, then National security adviser John Bolton speaks to media at the White House in Washington.  Bolton says he's 'prepared to testify' in Senate impeachment trial if subpoenaed(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster). FILE - In this July 31, 2019 file photo, then National security adviser John Bolton speaks to media at the White House in Washington. Bolton says he's 'prepared to testify' in Senate impeachment trial if subpoenaed
    (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster). FILE - In this July 31, 2019 file photo, then National security adviser John Bolton speaks to media at the White House in Washington.  Bolton says he's 'prepared to testify' in Senate impeachment trial if subpoenaed(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster). FILE - In this July 31, 2019 file photo, then National security adviser John Bolton speaks to media at the White House in Washington. Bolton says he's 'prepared to testify' in Senate impeachment trial if subpoenaed
    The stakes over witness testimony at President Donald Trump's impeachment trial are rising now that a draft of a book from former national security adviser John Bolton appears to undercut a key defense argument.
    The stakes over witness testimony at President Donald Trump's impeachment trial are rising now that a draft of a book from former national security adviser John Bolton appears to undercut a key defense argument.
  • Wichita street crews prepare for snow again

    Wichita street crews prepare for snow again

    Wichita street crews were pre-treating roads Monday night ahead of another round of winter weather.

    Wichita street crews were pre-treating roads Monday night ahead of another round of winter weather.

  • Winter Storm moving across KAKEland

    Winter Storm moving across KAKEland

    Snow falling across Western Kansas overnight, becomes rain, changing to freezing rain, then snow for Wichita and South Central Kansas during Tuesday.

    Snow falling across Western Kansas overnight, becomes rain, changing to freezing rain, then snow for Wichita and South Central Kansas during Tuesday.

Check out these photos from across KAKEland snapped by our viewers, staff and local officials. Do you have pictures to share with us? Email them to news@kake.com.

MORE SLIDESHOWS HERE