Written by Erica Liaw

Disasters Won’t End When Fires Go Out: Kangaroo Island

More than 210,000 hectares have been burnt on Kangaroo Island in the hottest year on record in Australia. That’s almost half the island and more than two times the size of Singapore. Likened to Noah’s Arc due to its wildlife diversity, fears have arisen that Kangaroo Island may never fully recover from the devastating bushfire. 

Located in South Australia, over a third of Kangaroo Island is protected in nature reserves and is known for its unique ecology, including endangered species like the Kangaroo Island dunnart and a unique subspecies, the glossy black-cockatoo. As the island’s economy is hugely reliant on tourism and agriculture, the extensive damages on the west end of the island have taken a heavy toll on both industries. 

“We could be facing economic collapse if we don’t have people coming through our doors and supporting us. Then people will be letting staff go. And when staff go, they pack up, they leave, they take their skills with them,” said Leeza Irwin, the co-owner of Raptor Domain, a tourist and educational facility showcasing rescued birds of prey and reptiles. 

“We’re getting cancellations, and operators are getting cancellations, for the rest of January, February, March and April. If that continues for businesses on Kangaroo Island, it will be devastating.” said Chris Schumann, owner of Kangaroo Island Seaside Inn.

Apart from the economy, things are also looking bleak for the island’s social fabric, with Michael Pengilly, a known climate change denier, as the island’s mayor. The mayor criticised a tweet by former US President Barack Obama for connecting Australia’s bushfires with the “very real and very urgent consequences of climate change.” 

Disasters Won’t End When the Rain Comes Down: Spiders

Although heavy downpours have offered some relief to Australia, the wet conditions are perfect for funnel-web spiders to be coaxed out from their hideouts and look for mates. These spiders are aggressive arachnids, sporting a potentially deadly bite, with the males’ venom responsible for at least 13 recorded deaths since 1927.

While no deaths have been reported since the development of an antivenom in 1981, the poison can kill within 15 minutes. Authorities in Australia have since issued a warning to residents.

Erica Liaw is an NUS Political Science student. In her free time, she enjoys screaming in the shower and consuming caffeine in cinemas. If you see her walking around in circles, she’s either lost due to a poor sense of direction or she is cooling down after a run. Although Erica may look like a millennial, she is a bargain-hunter auntie at heart.

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