A photo of a dead kangaroo that was burned alive as it was trapped on a fence has become one of the most powerful pictures of the devastating bushfires in Australia.
Experts believe that the apocalyptic blazes have claimed more than one billion lives of animals.
The heartbreaking image of a young kangaroo was captured by The Advertiser photographer Brad Fleet. In the photo, the baby kangaroo appears to have been attempting to run away but it got trapped on a fence when the blazes came through.
In an interview with PEOPLE, Fleet said that he was covering the impact of the Cudlee Creek fire in South Australia when he saw the heartbreaking sight.
“It was overwhelmingly devastating,” he expressed. “The kangaroo was like a statue. It was difficult to photograph, not just because of the scene, but because it was hard to see. It blended into the background because everything was black and brown and covered in ash.”
He described the heart wrenching scene as eerily quiet.
“It was a heartbreaking scene,” continued. “Everything was so still, dry, and hot. There was no fire. There was no movement. The kangaroo looked frozen in time, more like a volcano had erupted than a fire had swept through.”
“I don’t remember hearing any birds and you couldn’t see any other life. At times, you could smell other animals that had been killed,” Fleet added.
“It looked like it was a quick struggle, but the reality is you don’t know how far the kangaroo had been chased up the valley by the fire before it was overcome. You don’t know how long it was trying to cross the fence.”
The photographer said that the photo has been used by many bushfire funds. “The great tragedy is still yet to come for Australia’s wildlife that has survived the fires,” he said.
“It is the start of summer and traditionally our hottest months are yet to come. There is nothing left for the animals to eat, and with very little rainfall predicted, they will starve. It is an absolute disaster.”
“The time to stop debating climate change has arrived,” he continued. “While politicians and the public waste time on this argument, the world gets warmer. I have never experienced so many extremely hot days in my life, what are my children going to face in theirs?”
Experts from the University of Sydney said more than one billion animals, including birds, reptiles, and mammals are feared dead from the flames.
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