Wildlife Experts Estimate Millions Of Animals Have Been Killed By Australian Bushfires
Wildlife experts have estimated that millions of animals have been killed by the Australian bushfires, which have ripped through more than four million hectares across five states, according to Reuters.
While authorities have no exact figure on how many animals have died as a result of the widespread blazes, experts believe it is likely to be in the millions.
Many species have been affected in Australia - which is home to various indigenous fauna including kangaroos, koalas, wallabies, possums, wombats and echidnas - but koalas are feared to be among the hardest hit, with an estimated 30 percent of just one koala colony on the country's northeast coast thought to be lost.
Tracy Burgess, a volunteer at Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Services (WIRES), said it was concerning that rescuers were not receiving as many animal patients as they would expect.
Burgess told Reuters: "We're not getting that many animals coming into care.
"So, our concern is that they don't come into care because they're not there anymore, basically."
WIRES receives limited government funding, meaning it relies heavily on donations from the public, along with help from volunteers like Burgess who care for the animals in their own homes.
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Burgess is caring for an injured brushtail possum, which had been found in the rural town of Clarence in the World Heritage listed Blue Mountains region, around 100 kilometers (62.1 miles) west of Sydney.
She hopes she'll be able to save the possum, especially as she has since discovered the small marsupial has a passenger.
"Once we got the pouch open, a tiny little hand came out with claws on it, so, yeah, there's a pinkie - very little baby unfurred possum," Burgess said.
"So she's a ferocious mother who has clearly done her best for her bub."
Tracy Dodd, another WIRES rescuer, is also looking after a scalded kangaroo that was discovered in the same town, where several houses had been destroyed by the fires.
Dodd said: "He was just sitting under a bush and his mum was not too far away but he was obviously not well enough to hop around.
"He's had lots of fluids and now he's off to the vet."
Usually, animal groups like WIRES discourage the general public from feeding wild animals. However, the wildfires that continue to tear through the country have prompted a change in priority, and experts are now urging people to provide food and water to creatures in need.
Featured Image Credit: PA