Jan 13, 2020

Australia's fires could cause koalas to be listed as endangered, minister warns

An injured koala joey at the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park in South Australia on Jan. 8. Photo: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

Australia's wildfires have devastated the koala population and could cause the unique marsupial listed as endangered, Environment Minister Sussan Ley warned Monday, per the Sydney Morning Herald.

The big picture: Over 1 billion animals are believed to have died in fires across the country since September. Ley announced a A$50 million funding plan to help protect and support affected wildlife. In New South Wales, wildlife workers dropped thousands of pounds of food for the endangered brush-tailed rock wallaby, state Environment Minister Matt Kean said.

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In photos: Australia endures floods, dust storms and brown rain as fires rage

Workers clean a court after overnight rain on day four of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne Thursday morning local time. Photo: William West/AFP via Getty Images

Soaring temperatures in the Australian state of New South Wales of over 100°F have triggered fresh bushfires, while dust has produced brown rain in Victoria.

What's happening: Dust storms have been pummeling parts of southeast Australia for days. A massive bushfire in the Australian Capital Territory impacted flights at Canberra Airport, where hail the size of golf balls struck earlier in the week. The storms come days after floods hit southeast Queensland, which has also been impacted by the fires. Here's what's been happening, in photos.

See photosArrowUpdated Jan 23, 2020

Australia's deadly fires: What you need to know

The Australian flag flies under red skies from fires on Jan. 4 in Bruthen, Victoria. Photos: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

The Orroral Valley fire has burned through nearly 25% of the district that's home to Australia's capital, News.com.au reports, after ACT Emergency Controller Georgeina Whelan said the fire was rapidly growing into the south east on Saturday.

The latest: The Orroral fire grew from 81,544 acres to at least 129,073 acres on Saturday, based on Whelan's initial statement, and ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr's following estimate. Whelan said the Orroral fire is expected to move "well into" New South Wales, which creates potential for it to reach and merge with other bushfires in the area.

Australia's drought threatens to wipe out the platypus

A keeper at Taronga Zoo Sydney holds a baby platypus. Photo: Fairfax Media via Getty Images

Australia's climate catastrophe has triggered record-breaking heat waves, drought and a ferocious bushfire season — and it's left the platypus on the brink of extinction, a new study warns.

Why it matters: The semiaquatic egg-laying mammal was once considered widespread across the eastern Australian mainland, but drought conditions have led to "the extinction of local populations across about 40 per cent of the species' range," University of New South Wales researchers said in a statement Monday.

Go deeperArrowJan 21, 2020