Local and regional extinctions of kangaroos have been observed in 2019 and 2020, with kangaroo populations further decimated by devastating bushfires, floods and drought. A changing climate will affect all species of kangaroos.
Bushfires impacted an estimated 4.96 million macropods including kangaroos, wallabies and pademelons. Kangaroos that were not killed by the fires suffered from injuries, predation and lack of access to food and water. Despite this, the Australian government continues to authorise the commercial killing of kangaroos.
Increasing temperatures, more frequent heat waves and drought will affects the availability of food and water. This has impacts for kangaroo distribution and abundance.
Caughley et al. (1984) found a reduction in red kangaroos by 41% and 45% for the two species of grey kangaroos during drought. During drought, juvenile kangaroos and older males are the most likely to die as they require more food and water than adult females. During a mild drought 83% of young red kangaroos die and in a severe drought none survive, and no reserve embryos are carried. Grey kangaroo populations declined when rainfall is well below average. If drought persists for longer than six months wallaroos stop breeding until the drought breaks.
Considering these factors of adult and juvenile mortality some studies conclude that kangaroo populations fall by 60% during a drought. Killing kangaroos in a during drought is a disaster for a slow-reproducing animal.
Recently, kangaroos have been impacted in south eastern Australia by a severe drought, higher than average temperatures and extreme fires resulting in declining populations of kangaroos in New South Wales and South Australia.