Bushfires have ravaged around 2.5 million acres of farmland and bush across Australia’s east coast in recent weeks, killing four people and destroying hundreds of homes. The country’s koala populations have also been a major victim of the flames, with more than 350 of the marsupials feared killed in a major habitat.
Amid the destruction, one recent act of bravery has given the country hope in fighting the blaze. After spotting a koala crossing a road amongst the flames in New South Wales, a local woman named Toni rushed to the animal’s aid, wrapping it in her shirt and pouring water over it.
The hero said she was planning to take the injured koala to the nearby Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, a facility that is taking care of up to 15 affected koalas.
The hospital and a few other organizations created a GoFundMe campaign to purchase automatic drinking stations and install them in the burnt areas to help in koala and wildlife survival.
However, since people have already raised over $879,000 (the goal was $25,000), the project is being expanded.
Volunteer groups are also taking in koalas found burned and dehydrated after the fires.
Koalas are especially vulnerable to the fires because they instinctively climb to the tops of trees, straight into the heat.
Even if they survive the fires, they still have to walk across scorched earth when they come down.
“This male koala who was so disorientated by the flames and unfortunately was burnt further as he headed back into the active fire. He has been called Ellenborough Lewis (after her grandchild). He has been treated and is now in the five-star accommodation at the Koala Hospital”, said the doctors from Koala Hospital Port Macquarie.