NASA space view shows Australia fire devastation across nature reserve

Ecologists estimate 25,000 koalas have perished on Kangaroo Island.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
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NASA's Terra satellite captured this image of Kangaroo Island on Jan. 7 showing burn scars and active fires.

NASA Worldview

Kangaroo Island off of Australia's southern coast was a paradise filled with forests and nature reserves, but it hasn't been immune to the bushfire epidemic that has swept across the mainland. A new NASA satellite image shows the horrifying extent of the damage

NASA's Terra satellite captured a view of Kangaroo Island on Tuesday that shows one third of the land mass covered by burn scars or active fires. The space agency described it as "an ecological tragedy" and estimates the fires have consumed 383,013 acres (155,000 hectares).

The island is home to Flinders Chase National Park, an area known for seals, whales, koalas, kangaroos and the only wild population of platypus in South Australia. 

The bushfires on the island started as lightning strikes in the park. "Ecologists within the park put estimates of the number of koalas that have perished in the fire at 25,000 which is half the island's population of the popular animals," NASA said.

Australia's National Parks and Wildlife Service closed Flinders Chase and other protected areas around Kangaroo Island as the fires spread.

Twitter user Henry Laithwaite shared a friend's photo of an iconic road through Flinders Chase. It shows nothing but burned trees as far as the eye can see.

Click here for more on the Australia fires and how you can help.

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Originally published Jan. 7.