One Third Of Koalas In New South Wales Believed To Be Killed By Australian Bushfires
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Australia's environment minister announced the horrific statistic during an interview on ABC's AM radio show on Friday, saying that thousands of the animals living in in densely populated areas on NSW's mid-north coast has been lost in recent weeks.
"Up to 30% of the koalas in the region may have been killed, because up to 30% of their habitat has been destroyed," Ley explained.
"We'll know more when the fires are calmed down and a proper assessment can be made."
It had been estimated that before the wildfires, the region was home to around 28,000 of the animals, which currently hold a 'vulnerable' status.
Ley said authorities were pumping AUD $6 million to help reintroduce koalas to the wild after treatment in hospitals, she'd been working with koala experts to establish corridors for their release.
The federal environment minister also warned that koalas weren't the only creatures in danger, adding that western ground parrot and a small marsupial called the Kangaroo Island dunnart were also at threat.
Across the country, firefighters, animal rescuers and even members of the public have been rallying to help animals affected not only by the fires, but also the extreme heat and drought.
A cyclist from South Australia was stunned when she stumbled across a koala suffering from 'severe thirst' walked up to her and clambered up onto her bicycle to drink from her water bottle, sharing a clip of the amazing encounter on Instagram.
Speaking to 7News about the bittersweet moment, Anna Heusler said it wasn't unusual to see koalas when cycling through the bushland, but admitted the creature's reaction to seeing her was surprising.
She said: "We've seen literally hundreds of koalas over the years, we have never seen a koala do this.
"We were descending from Norton Summit Road back into the city early this morning and we came around a bend and there was a koala sitting in the middle of the road.
"Naturally, we stopped because we were going to help relocate him off the road.
"I stopped on my bike and he walked right up to me, quite quickly for a koala, and as I was giving him a drink from all our water bottles, he actually climbed up onto my bike.
"None of us have ever seen anything like it."