NASA Satellite Captures Kangaroo Island's Bushfire Burn Scars


Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been left red-faced after telling residents on Kangaroo Island it was lucky no-one died in the region's devastating bushfires last week.

Kangaroo Island off the coast of South Australia has been described as the country's version of the Galapagos.

New images from NASA illustrate the devastating impact of the wildfires in Australia. Before and after images from NASA's Terra satellite show the island's burn scars. Nearly a third of the island has been destroyed by the bushfires and Terra's latest images show many burn scars across the landscape. Satellite pictures show almost a third of Kangaroo Island - a former haven for wildlife - scorched by the bushfires.

A third of Kangaroo Island is comprised of protected nature reserves that are home to wildlife such as koalas, sea lions and various endangered bird species that have bounced back from the brink of extinction in the past decades.

The agency said the bushfires began as lightning strikes within Flinders Chase National Park. The devastation can be clearly seen, with brown burn scars and active fires where lush greenery once stood.

"Caring for all these animals is quite unbelievable", said Sam Mitchell, co-owner of the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park. The loss of vegetation and wildlife is a disturbing outcome of the wildfires throughout the country.

Ecologists estimate that about 25,000 koalas on Kangaroo Island have died in the fires, accounting for half of the island's population of the marsupials, according to NASA.

Inspired in part by the late Australian wildlife expert Steve Irwin, Mr Mitchell and his wife, Dana, bought the commercial park seven years ago in their early 20s, and have been renovating the place and taking in rescue animals since.

Almost 20 million acres have burned across Australia in recent months, and authorities say the fires could keep burning for months longer.