A heartbreaking moment in which soldiers are seen comforting a distressed koala and wrapping it in a blanket was caught on camera on Kangaroo Island in Australia.
To assist their neighbors in fighting raging bushfires that have taken over the popular tourist hotspot, New Zealand has deployed 116 soldiers from the defense force, the air force, and the army to help in bushfire crisis relief.
In one image shared by New Zealand Defence Force, two soldiers are seen comforting a distressed marsupial as it is feeding on leaves by the side of the road.
According to the reports, the NZDF members were charged with removing debris and clearing routes on the island to allow emergency services to pass.
Unfortunately, the soldiers also had to deal with seeing hundreds of burned koalas that didn’t make it as the deadly fires ravaged the island.
“We know there is a very long road ahead for the recovery effort but we’ve been pleased to play our part,” Senior National Officer Major Ron Christmas expressed.
“The sheer scale of the devastation is quite overwhelming when you see it first-hand, so we’re very pleased to be able to help our neighbors with people power and resources at this time.”
According to the updated estimations, over one billion animals, including reptiles, birds, mammals, and dozens of other animal species, have died in Australia’s bushfires since September.
As the University of Sydney ecologists previously suggested, an estimate of 480 million animals, including reptiles, birds, and mammals, have died due to raging fires in recent months.
Included in the death toll are also tens of thousands of koalas that are thought to have been either burned or starved to death following the loss of their natural habitat.
Now, however, the situation appears to be even grimmer as ecologist Chris Dickman revealed that the initial figure was based on the state of NSW alone and didn’t incorporate frogs, bats, and several other vital animal species.
“The original figure – the 480m – was based on mammals, birds and reptiles for which we do have densities, and that figure now is a little bit out of date.
It’s over 800m given the extent of the fires now – in New South Wales alone.If 800m sounds a lot, it’s not all the animals in the firing line,” he told Huffington Post.
Allegedly, the number is well over one billion “without any doubt at all” provided that other Australian states as well as frogs, bats, and invertebrates are included in the calculations.
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