The Australian bushfires have been raging for months and heroic firefighters have been fighting the blaze with seemingly little effect as it has ravaged more than four million acres over five states, reported Reuters.
And while the human and financial cost has been devastating, even more, heartbreaking is the news that countless wildlife has already perished from the blazes. While experts have no exact figures, all agree that the number is likely in the millions.
A lot of indigenous fauna call Australia home. This includes koalas, kangaroos, possums, wallabies, wombats, and echidnas and all of them have been affected. But koalas are believed to be the hardest hit species with one colony in the country’s northeast coast suffering at least a 30 percent loss in population.
Of particular concern is the fact that rescuers have not been receiving as many animal patients as one would expect in such a large disaster, said Tracy Burgess, a volunteer at Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Services (WIRES).
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 is heavily dependent on donations from the public as the organization only gets limited funding for the government. Volunteers such as Burgess even care for animals in their own homes.
One injured brushtail possum is under the care of Burgess. It was found in the rural town of Clarence in the Blue Mountains region, a World Heritage site roughly 100 kilometers (62.1 miles) west of Sydney.
Burgess is hopeful that she can save the possum, an outcome made more urgent by the fact that the small marsupial actually 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.”
Another WIRES rescuer named Tracy Dodd is caring for a kangaroo that’s suffering from burns. It was found in the same town. Several houses in the community have already been destroyed by fires.
Dodd said: “He was just sitting under a bush and his mom 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.”
Normally, animal groups such as WIRES discourage people from feeding wild animals. However, the wildfires have proven to be an exceptional case and now experts are encouraging the general public to give food and water to any creature that may be in need.