Australia's Heat Wave Has Been Devastating For Animals

Dry river in the australian outback. Jan Kozak/Shutterstock

It is not a fun time to be Down Under. Australia is currently experiencing an extreme heatwave, with record-breaking temperatures reaching near 50°C (122°F) in many major cities. These exceptional temperatures are terribly hard on humans and have now cost the lives of thousands of animals too.

On Tuesday, a post on the Alice Spring Community Forum Facebook page described the gruesome discovery of a family of wild horses dead due to dehydration. The animals were found in Deep Hole, an area 90 kilometers (55 miles) from Alice Springs. This is a water reservoir that has never been dry before, according to the post.

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Some locals drove to Deep Hole to check on the water level after many weeks of the temperature staying in the mid-forties. There was no water, not even mud. Just the carcasses of wild horses stretching for about 100 meters (330 feet).

“This event, along with other recent instances of mass animal deaths, including recent fish deaths in the Riverina, calls the community to wonder what steps are our leaders taking to tackle the effects of climate change in the future and what steps we all take to prevent the suffering of innocent animals across our country,” the post written by Rohan Smyth states.

Bats have also been particularly hard hit by the torrid weather. Around 4,000 spectacled flying foxes died in a week in November from the heat, and many more have died since. Many bats are literally dropping from trees because they can’t withstand an internal temperature higher than 40°C (104°F) lasting for several days. The exhaustion kills them or makes them unable to hold on to branches.

The extreme weather has also been partly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of fish in New South Wales. An interim report indicates that an increase in algae blooms and a sudden drop in temperatures led to very low dissolved oxygen levels in the water column on two separate occasions, which resulted in the deaths of the fish.

The severe effects of global warming are not something in the future. They are already here. These extreme temperatures and heat waves are no longer the exception if they happen every few weeks.

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