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森林火灾肆虐,澳大利亚考拉面临死亡威胁

Saving the Fire Victims Who Cannot Flee: Australia’s Koalas
森林火灾肆虐,澳大利亚考拉面临死亡威胁

MELBOURNE, Australia — The victims were carried in one by one, their paws burned and fur singed, suffering from dehydration and fear. Their caretakers bandaged their wounds, swaddled them and laid them in baskets with the only thing that was familiar — the leaves of a eucalyptus tree.

澳大利亚墨尔本——受害者被一个接一个地抬进来,它们的爪子烧伤、皮毛烧焦,饱受脱水和恐惧的折磨。照顾者给它们包扎好伤口,然后裹起来放进筐子里,里面有一样它们熟悉的东西——桉树叶。

As catastrophic fires have burned more than two million acres in Australia, dozens of koalas have been rescued from smoldering trees and ashen ground. The animals, already threatened as a species before these latest blazes ravaged a crucial habitat, are being treated in rescue centers, and at least one private home, along the country’s east coast.

在澳大利亚,灾难性的大火已经烧毁200多万英亩的土地,数十只考拉从阴燃的树木和余灰中获救。在最近的大火破坏一片重要的栖息地之前,该物种本已濒危,这些从大火中救出来的考拉正在澳大利亚东海岸的救援中心和至少一处私人住宅里接受治疗。

本月,一只脱水受伤的考拉在澳大利亚麦夸里港的考拉医院接受治疗。

“They are terrified,” said Cheyne Flanagan, the clinical director of the Koala Hospital, in Port Macquarie, the only facility of its kind in the world. She added that what was happening to the koalas was “a national tragedy.”

“它们吓坏了,”麦夸里港(Port Macquarie)考拉医院(Koala Hospital)的临床主任谢恩·弗拉纳根(Cheyne Flanagan)说,这里是世界上唯一的考拉医院。她补充说,考拉的遭遇是一场“国家悲剧”。

Officials at the hospital began warning weeks ago, when the fires first ignited around Port Macquarie, 250 miles north of Sydney, that hundreds of koalas may have been “incinerated.” Rescuers have not yet been able to confirm the scope of the loss because some of the blazes are still raging.

数周前,悉尼以北250英里的麦夸里港附近开始燃起大火时,这家医院的管理者就发出了警告,称数百只考拉可能已被“烧死”。救援人员目前还无法确定损失的影响范围,因为一些大火仍在肆虐。

The plight of the koala — a national symbol of Australia — has raised questions among conservationists and scientists about what it will take to preserve biodiversity in a country increasingly prone to intense fire, extreme heat and water scarcity, and which already has among the highest rates of species extinction in the world.

作为澳大利亚的国家标志,考拉的困境在环保人士和科学家中间引发了讨论:在一个越来越容易遭受大火、极端高温天气和水资源匮乏,并且物种灭绝率高居世界前列的国家,要如何保护生物的多样性。

While koalas have evolved to exist alongside wildfires, the animals are facing new threats not just from climate change but also from human development, which has dislocated local populations, impairing their ability to survive fires. In some regions, scientists say, koalas’ numbers have declined by up to 80 percent, though it is difficult to know how many remain across Australia.

虽然考拉已经进化到可以与野火共存,但它们面临的新威胁不仅来自气候变化,还来自人类的发展,后者使本地种群流离失所,削弱了它们在火灾中的存活能力。科学家说,在一些地区,考拉的数量下降了80%,尽管很难知道全澳大利亚还有多少考拉。

“We have these unique animals not found anywhere else on this planet, and we’re killing them,” Ms. Flanagan said. “This is a big wake-up call.”

“我们有这些独一无二的动物,在地球上其他任何地方都找不到,而我们却在杀死它们,”弗拉纳根说。“这是很大的警钟。”

The animal distress goes beyond koalas. Recently, tens of thousands of bats plummeted from the sky in temperatures exceeding 107 degrees Fahrenheit in northern Australia. Kangaroos, parched by drought, decimated the grapes on a vineyard in Canberra. And waterfowl in the Macquarie Marshes, a wildlife haven in northwest New South Wales, have been affected by a fire in their habitat.

陷入困境的不只是考拉。最近,在澳大利亚北部,数万只蝙蝠在超过42摄氏度的高温下从空中坠落。在堪培拉,深受干旱之苦的袋鼠使葡萄园里的葡萄大幅减产。而在新南威尔士州西北部的野生动植物天堂麦夸里沼泽地,水鸟的栖息地也受到了火灾的影响。

“It’s a swamp for goodness’ sake; it’s burning,” said David Bowman, a professor of pyrogeography and fire science at the University of Tasmania. The current bush fires, the earlier burning of rainforests and a continuing extreme drought, he said, are all “warning lights” that ecosystems have been pushed far beyond their normal patterns.

“天哪,这是片沼泽;它在燃烧,”塔斯马尼亚大学(University of Tasmania)火灾地理学和消防学教授戴维·鲍曼(David Bowman)说。他说,目前的丛林大火、早些时候的热带雨林大火和持续的极端干旱都是“警告信号”,表明生态系统已经远离正常模式。

Climate change and other human impacts have so altered the landscape that the government needs to urgently rethink its approach to conservation, Dr. Bowman said, suggesting interventions like irrigating, feeding and relocating animals.

鲍曼说,气候变化和其他人类影响已经极大地改变了地貌,政府需要迫切地重新思考保护方式,他建议采取灌溉、喂养和迁移动物等干预措施。

“You want koalas?” he said. “That’s what we’ve got to do.”

“你要考拉吗?”他说。“那是我们必须做的。”

In the weeks that the fires have been burning around Port Macquarie, more than two-thirds of the habitat of a local population of koalas in the forest surrounding two lakes has been decimated, conservationists said.

环保人士表示,在麦夸里港附近的大火持续燃烧的几周里,两个湖泊周围的森林中,一个本地种群考拉超过三分之二的栖息地遭到了毁坏。

They estimated that 350 of the nearly 700 koalas that lived in the region had been killed. As of Thursday, 22 adult koalas and one joey had been rescued. They are being treated at the Koala Hospital along with dozens of other animals, including kangaroos and possums that were injured in dog attacks or car accidents — often the collateral damage of creatures searching for a new home after a disaster.

他们估计,生活在该地区的近700只考拉中有350只已经死亡。截至周四,有22只成年考拉和一只幼年考拉获救。它们和其他几十种动物一起在考拉医院接受治疗,包括被狗袭击或因车祸受伤的袋鼠和负鼠——这通常是受灾后寻找新家时遭遇的附带伤害。

About 50 miles south of the hospital, in Taree, one family has transformed its home into a koala rehabilitation center. There, 24 animals, each given a name on a Post-it note attached to its basket, are beginning the slow road to recovery in the couple’s living room.

在医院以南大约50英里的塔里,有一户人家把自己的住处变成了考拉康复中心。在这对夫妇的客厅里,24只动物开始了缓慢的康复之路,每只动物都起了名字,写在便利贴上,贴在各自的篮子上。

“Somebody has to look after them because nobody else is doing too much, as far as the government, in protecting their habitat and protecting them,” Christeen McLeod, who is housing the koalas, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “So we do this,” she added, “and hope that we can save some of them.”

“只有政府在下大力气保护它们的栖息地、保护它们,必须得有人照顾它们,”为考拉提供住所的克里斯汀·麦克罗德(Christeen McLeod)告诉澳大利亚广播公司(Australian Broadcasting Corporation)。“所以我们这样做,”她补充说,“希望能拯救一些动物。”

Koalas, unlike kangaroos, birds or snakes, do not flee from fires, but instead scale trees to the canopy, where they can curl themselves into a ball for protection and wait for the danger to pass.

考拉与袋鼠、鸟类和蛇不同,它们不会逃离火灾,而是爬到树冠上,蜷成一个球来保护自己,等待危险过去。

But during high-intensity fires, such as those that have burned in recent weeks, the animals, conservationists say, are far less likely to survive. Even if the fire itself does not reach the tree canopy, the animals may overheat and fall to the ground, where they can be burned to death. They can also suffer smoke inhalation, or burn their paws or claws when trying to climb down trees.

但是,自然保护主义者说,在最近几周这样的高强度的火灾中,它们存活的几率要小得多。即使火没有烧到树冠,它们也会因过热而掉到地上,被活活烧死。它们还会吸入烟雾,或者在试图爬下树的时候灼伤爪子。

Claws, crucial for life in the wild, do not grow back. A “koala who can’t climb can’t survive,” said Sue Ashton, the director of the Koala Hospital.

爪子对野生动物来说至关重要,它们不能再生。考拉医院的院长苏·阿什顿(Sue Ashton)说,“不会爬的考拉活不了。”

She said that while the hospital hoped to rehabilitate and eventually release the animals, it was likely that some would have to be euthanized. That, she added, would be a further blow to conservation efforts.

她说,虽然医院希望治愈这些动物,并且最终放归,但很可能会对一些动物实施安乐死。她还说,这将对保护工作造成进一步打击。

Though the fires are still burning, a rescue team led by the hospital began to search the periphery last week, walking in a human chain, their necks strained toward the tree canopy, searching for survivors.

虽然大火仍在继续,但由医院领导的一支救援队上周开始在周边地区进行拉网式搜索,紧盯树冠,寻找幸存的考拉。

The rescuers described a lifeless scene free of birds and insects, with the forest undergrowth gone, reeds burned in a creek, and hollowed-out trees still smoking.

救援人员描述,眼前是一片毫无生气的景象,没有鸟类和昆虫,灌木丛消失了,小溪里的芦苇在燃烧,被烧成空心的树还在冒烟。

“This fire is currently still burning,” said Scott Castle, the assistant clinical director at the hospital, who participated in the effort. “So,” he added, “there’s a lot more to search.”

“大火目前还在继续,”参与了救援行动的考拉医院临床副主任斯科特·卡斯尔(Scott Castle)说。“所以,”他补充道,“还有很多地方需要搜索。”
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