While half of the U.S. is still recovering from the dreaded Polar Vortex, down under in Australia they have a very different set of problems.
With summer temperatures reaching up to 118 degrees F (48 C) since Christmas, Australia is in the middle of its hottest year on record, and the results have been severely detrimental to the wildlife of the area. Just this month it is estimated that 100,000 bats have fallen from the sky, dead from heat exhaustion. Dayboro resident Murray Paas took this footage of the carnage reaped by the heat on his property.
RSPCA spokesman Micheal Beatty sees the enormity of the situation, ”The heat wave was basically a catastrophe for all the bat colonies in south-east Queensland.” Louise Saunders, President of the Queensland’s Bat Conservation and Rescue group likened the resulting deaths to chocolate dripping off the trees and added ” It is an enormous animal welfare concern.”
The extreme heat is not only taking the lives of bats; Kangaroos, parrots and emus have been found dead from dehydration and heat exposure as well.
With the bats deaths seem to be the most prevalent, animal groups are doing what they can for orphaned baby bats and are seeking volunteers to help with the cause. The Flying Foxes are an integral part of the Queensland ecosystem helping both pollination of local flora and keeping the insect population as bay.
While animal groups are concerned with the heats impact on the flying fox population, many citizens are currently more concerned with the clean up of the bats that have rained down from the trees. While only a small number of bats carry communicable disease, citizens were discouraged from touching the dead bats if it could be avoided, and the clean up effort of the quickly rotting bodies did not come as fast as many would have liked. According to Murray Paas, it was ultimately the local animal rescue groups that assisted him in some of the clean up when they visited his property to rescue orphans and take an official counting of the deceased, some of which had yet to fall from their perch in the trees, having simply died where they slept.
The heat, of course, is not only affecting the animals. This week several people have been treated in hospital for sun exposure and heat exhaustion and fire fighters across Australia are on high alert for brush fires. Officials have commented that weather conditions are similar to those seen on what is now called the Black Saturday brush fires of 2009, in which 170 people and countless wild life were killed. While many of us here in the states are looking forward to the thaw of spring there is no doubt those in the southern hemisphere are looking forward to their coming fall, and hopefully, falling temperatures.