Australia faced the fury of bushfires in January that destroyed the natural habitats of many forms of wildlife. One of these was the mouse-like dunnart of Kangaroo Island. The majority of their habitats went up in smoke, and environmentalists feared the worst. Fortunately, cameras captured one of these tiny marsupials, and further investigation revealed the presence of a few of them in a small area that remained unharmed by the fires. In fact, sensor cameras detected dunnarts at three locations on private property in the north-west of the island.

This is a tiny part of an area that escaped the fire. The attention of conservationists is on this unburnt patch, and they are working 24X7 to install sensor cameras, build protective tunnels, and trap feral cats. These are potential dangers for the dunnarts.

The Guardian quotes ecologist Heidi Groffen saying the unburnt patch was “incredibly important” for the future of the species. She is associated with Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife. She gives full credit to farm fire units and firefighters who have helped create the background for saving this critical habitat from the wrath of the flames. Incidentally, fires have destroyed most of the surrounding areas leaving only a tiny space intact.

Australian bushfires destroyed habitats of the dunnarts

Any bushfire devastates the Environment, displaces people who lose their homes and belongings while wildlife loses their habits. Recovery of the environment is a long-drawn-out process. That is the dilemma of conservationists. Loss of the trees and greenery can sound the death knell for some species like the tiny mouse-like dunnarts of Kangaroo Island.

WWF-Australia funded the new camera traps. Its official Darren Grover says - “This is a species that won’t survive without a helping hand. That’s why it’s so important to monitor and manage threats in these few sites that are providing a refuge for the remaining dunnarts.”

The Guardian adds these creatures are super lightweight, weigh less than an ounce (hardly 25 grams), and were critically endangered before the fires.

The population was fewer than 500, which might have dwindled to around 50. It was a matter of concern. They face the threat of feral cats that have moved into the unburnt areas. The conservationists have a tough job on hand. They deployed the workforce to build the necessary infrastructure and had to make the area free of feral cats. Once caught, they were euthanized because even one of them was a danger. It could play havoc with the limited number of surviving dunnarts.

Bushfires robbed the dunnarts of their hiding places

According to 7News AU, conservationists are trying their best to bring the tiny dunnarts back from the verge of extinction. These marsupials are in the category of the critically endangered species and found in Kangaroo Island, but the recent fires have robbed them of their habitats.

Before the disaster struck, there were hardly a few hundred of them on the island, and right now, the numbers could be less than 50. This has got the conservationists worried, and WWF-Australia has stepped in. It has provided funds to install sensor cameras to keep track of these tiny creatures. As an official of WWF-Australia says - “When a bushfire rips through an area, it can destroy the understorey and all the little hiding places that species like the dunnart rely on.”

Australian bushfires have affected all forms of life

The source of the fires that raged through Australia is not established. However, the bushfires have left their marks on all forms of life. Wildlife were the worst sufferers. Large numbers of koalas perished in the bushfires. Harry and Meghan took up the cause and made an appeal for donations to fight bushfires in Australia.