Mass Death of Wild Horses Due to Increasing Australia Heat
Sun, April 18, 2021

Mass Death of Wild Horses Due to Increasing Australia Heat

Last July, several countries in Europe recorded all-time national temperature highs after experiencing a similar heatwave in June. Reports showed that the Netherlands record of 39.3C (102.7F), set in Eindhoven, lasted less than 24 hours / Photo by: Curt Woyte via Wikimedia Commons

 

Last July, several countries in Europe recorded all-time national temperature highs after experiencing a similar heatwave in June. Reports showed that the Netherlands record of 39.3C (102.7F), set in Eindhoven, lasted less than 24 hours. During the same week, Belgium’s Royal Meteorological Institute (KMI-RMI) reported that the temperature at Kleine Brogel near the Dutch border rose to 40.6C from only 40.2C the previous day. 

“This is the highest recorded temperature for Belgium in history – since the beginning of measurements in 1833,” KMI-RMI’s Alex Dewalque said in a statement. 

The July heat was also a rare event in today’s climate in France. According to reports, Paris had its hottest day in the same month, making it the second dangerous heat wave of the summer across western Europe. For over three days, the observed temperature was estimated to have a 50-year to 150-year return period in the current climate. Unfortunately, the worsening heatwaves are also present across the world with severe impacts on us and the environment.

Record-breaking Heat Waves in Australia

Perth, the capital of Western Australia (WA), has escaped heatwaves for the past four years, despite having warmer months. The last time the city experienced a heatwave was in 2016 when its maximum temperature had surpassed 40C for four days in a row. However, this year is a lot different. ABC Net, Australia's national broadcaster, reported that Australia is suffering from the scorching heat this year.

Heatwaves are considered the country’s deadliest natural hazard, killing more people than floods, cyclones, and bushfires combined. Research center Risk Frontiers reported that extreme heat accounted for more than half of all listed deaths attributed to natural hazards from 1900 to 2011 nationwide. Heat-related hospital admissions have also been on the rise for the past several months. Andy Robertson, WA's chief health officer, stated that heat-related hospital admissions are categorized into two types.

"One is the direct effects of heat, so people get heat exhaustion and heatstroke. But the more insidious effect is on people who have a chronic disease, or the very young and the very old who have limited ability to adjust. They become exhausted over that period of time and what we see is an exacerbation of chronic diseases,” Robertson said. 

Unfortunately, Australia’s heatwave is taking a toll on people, animals, infrastructure, and land. Recently, the country’s State Emergency Service declared the heatwave a threat to public safety. The Australian Energy Market Operator cut power to over 200,000 people in the southern state of Victoria after the increasing demand for air-conditioning. Experts feared that there would be dry lightning strikes and strong gusts of wind that would spark blazes in several parts of Australia. 

Perth, the capital of Western Australia (WA), has escaped heatwaves for the past four years, despite having warmer months. The last time the city experienced a heatwave was in 2016 when its maximum temperature had surpassed 40C for four days in a row / Photo by: Samuel Wiki via Wikimedia Commons

 

Mass Death of Wild Horses

Australia has been warned of a ‘once in a lifetime heat blast’ with 125-year-old temperature records predicted to happen any time soon. According to The Sun, a tabloid newspaper, while the country is prone to bushfires in its dry, hot summers, blazes were sparked early this year. So far, wildfires burned about 2.5 million acres of farmland and bush, destroyed more than 300 homes, and claimed at least four lives. 

The record-breaking heat across Australia has caused the deaths of more than 90 wild horses. Earlier this year, rangers found dead and dying animals in a dried-up waterhole near Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. Photos of these dead animals strewn on the scorched ground have been circulating on social media. All of them were covered in dust and branches. In a post by Alice Springs residents, they acknowledged the fact that horses "are likely to have perished from dehydration accompanied by the overwhelming heat."

"The prospect of any living creatures perishing in this way has left many locals devastated. All feral animals need to be managed with effective strategies to minimize their impact on the environment and to alleviate any suffering," the post read. 

The record-breaking heat across Australia has caused the deaths of more than 90 wild horses. Earlier this year, rangers found dead and dying animals in a dried-up waterhole near Alice Springs in the Northern Territory / Photo by: Kersti Nebelsiek via Wikimedia Commons

 

According to Insider, an American online media company, one of the people who discovered the shocking scene was artist Ralph Turner. Turner said that he had never witnessed animal deaths of this scale in the region. After the discovery, local authority Central Land Council (CLC) immediately organized a cull of the remaining horses because they were found close to death.

"With climate change well and truly upon us, we expect these emergencies to occur with increasing frequency and nobody is truly prepared and resourced to respond to them,” CLC Director David Ross said. 

The death of wild horses would negatively affect our planet. Wild horses have evolved to become a key species within the ecosystem they live in and are an important source of seed dispersal and fertilization since they live on an herbivore diet. At the same time, these animals serve as a natural fertilizer in the areas they roam. Their rich fibrous diet leads to a nutrient-rich manure cycle, which helps in plant growth.

Wild horses’ manure provides food for insects and rodents that are a food source for larger prey animals. Even their hooves are important since they naturally disrupt the ground as they move from one place to another, providing aeration to the soil. Overall, wild horses are important.

More deaths in the wild can be expected as our planet gets hotter and hotter. Unfortunately, these are hard to prevent as global temperatures rise.