"The dunnart is not as famous as the koalas or platypuses that draw tourists. The mouse-sized animal though, is arguably the most special mammal on Australia's Kangaroo Island.
Before bush fires struck, the dunnart was already endangered, so rare that even researchers who studied them had never seen one. Now they fear they never will. One-third of the 1,700-square-mile island has burned, including the entire area where these dunnarts are known to live.
"One hundred percent — all of our records since 1990 are within the burned fire scar. The entire range of the species has been burned," said Rosemary Hohnen, an ecologist who spent more than two years surveying the Kangaroo Island dunnart. "They're in true peril, real peril of extinction."
More than 1 billion mammals, birds and reptiles nationwide, some of them found nowhere else on Earth, may have been affected or killed by the fires sweeping across Australia, according to a University of Sydney estimate. The potential toll is far greater when other types of animals are included."
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