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森林火災肆虐,澳大利亞考拉面臨死亡威脅

Saving the Fire Victims Who Cannot Flee: Australia’s Koalas
森林火災肆虐,澳大利亞考拉面臨死亡威脅

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.

澳大利亞墨爾本——受害者被一個接一個地抬進來,它們的爪子燒傷、皮毛燒焦,飽受脫水和恐懼的折磨。照顧者給它們包扎好傷口,然后裹起來放進筐子里,里面有一樣它們熟悉的東西——桉樹葉。

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.

在澳大利亞,災難性的大火已經燒毀200多萬英畝的土地,數十只考拉從陰燃的樹木和余灰中獲救。在最近的大火破壞一片重要的棲息地之前,該物種本已瀕危,這些從大火中救出來的考拉正在澳大利亞東海岸的救援中心和至少一處私人住宅里接受治療。

本月,一只脫水受傷的考拉在澳大利亞麥夸里港的考拉醫院接受治療。

“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.”

“它們嚇壞了,”麥夸里港(Port Macquarie)考拉醫院(Koala Hospital)的臨床主任謝恩·弗拉納根(Cheyne Flanagan)說,這里是世界上唯一的考拉醫院。她補充說,考拉的遭遇是一場“國家悲劇”。

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.

數周前,悉尼以北250英里的麥夸里港附近開始燃起大火時,這家醫院的管理者就發出了警告,稱數百只考拉可能已被“燒死”。救援人員目前還無法確定損失的影響范圍,因為一些大火仍在肆虐。

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.

作為澳大利亞的國家標志,考拉的困境在環保人士和科學家中間引發了討論:在一個越來越容易遭受大火、極端高溫天氣和水資源匱乏,并且物種滅絕率高居世界前列的國家,要如何保護生物的多樣性。

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.

雖然考拉已經進化到可以與野火共存,但它們面臨的新威脅不僅來自氣候變化,還來自人類的發展,后者使本地種群流離失所,削弱了它們在火災中的存活能力??茖W家說,在一些地區,考拉的數量下降了80%,盡管很難知道全澳大利亞還有多少考拉。

“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.”

“我們有這些獨一無二的動物,在地球上其他任何地方都找不到,而我們卻在殺死它們,”弗拉納根說。“這是很大的警鐘。”

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,在澳大利亞北部,數萬只蝙蝠在超過42攝氏度的高溫下從空中墜落。在堪培拉,深受干旱之苦的袋鼠使葡萄園里的葡萄大幅減產。而在新南威爾士州西北部的野生動植物天堂麥夸里沼澤地,水鳥的棲息地也受到了火災的影響。

“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,這是片沼澤;它在燃燒,”塔斯馬尼亞大學(University of Tasmania)火災地理學和消防學教授戴維·鮑曼(David Bowman)說。他說,目前的叢林大火、早些時候的熱帶雨林大火和持續的極端干旱都是“警告信號”,表明生態系統已經遠離正常模式。

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.

鮑曼說,氣候變化和其他人類影響已經極大地改變了地貌,政府需要迫切地重新思考保護方式,他建議采取灌溉、喂養和遷移動物等干預措施。

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

“你要考拉嗎?”他說。“那是我們必須做的。”

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.

環保人士表示,在麥夸里港附近的大火持續燃燒的幾周里,兩個湖泊周圍的森林中,一個本地種群考拉超過三分之二的棲息地遭到了毀壞。

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.

他們估計,生活在該地區的近700只考拉中有350只已經死亡。截至周四,有22只成年考拉和一只幼年考拉獲救。它們和其他幾十種動物一起在考拉醫院接受治療,包括被狗襲擊或因車禍受傷的袋鼠和負鼠——這通常是受災后尋找新家時遭遇的附帶傷害。

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.

在醫院以南大約50英里的塔里,有一戶人家把自己的住處變成了考拉康復中心。在這對夫婦的客廳里,24只動物開始了緩慢的康復之路,每只動物都起了名字,寫在便利貼上,貼在各自的籃子上。

“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.”

“只有政府在下大力氣保護它們的棲息地、保護它們,必須得有人照顧它們,”為考拉提供住所的克里斯汀·麥克羅德(Christeen McLeod)告訴澳大利亞廣播公司(Australian Broadcasting Corporation)。“所以我們這樣做,”她補充說,“希望能拯救一些動物。”

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.

考拉與袋鼠、鳥類和蛇不同,它們不會逃離火災,而是爬到樹冠上,蜷成一個球來保護自己,等待危險過去。

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,自然保護主義者說,在最近幾周這樣的高強度的火災中,它們存活的幾率要小得多。即使火沒有燒到樹冠,它們也會因過熱而掉到地上,被活活燒死。它們還會吸入煙霧,或者在試圖爬下樹的時候灼傷爪子。

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.

爪子對野生動物來說至關重要,它們不能再生??祭t院的院長蘇·阿什頓(Sue Ashton)說,“不會爬的考拉活不了。”

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.

她說,雖然醫院希望治愈這些動物,并且最終放歸,但很可能會對一些動物實施安樂死。她還說,這將對保護工作造成進一步打擊。

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.

雖然大火仍在繼續,但由醫院領導的一支救援隊上周開始在周邊地區進行拉網式搜索,緊盯樹冠,尋找幸存的考拉。

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.

救援人員描述,眼前是一片毫無生氣的景象,沒有鳥類和昆蟲,灌木叢消失了,小溪里的蘆葦在燃燒,被燒成空心的樹還在冒煙。

“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.”

“大火目前還在繼續,”參與了救援行動的考拉醫院臨床副主任斯科特·卡斯爾(Scott Castle)說。“所以,”他補充道,“還有很多地方需要搜索。”
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