Koalas are being rescued from wildfires that have burned more than 2 million acres in Australia, The New York Times reported.
The animals are reportedly being treated at rescue centers and at least one private home.
“They are terrified,” koala hospital clinical director Cheyne Flanagan told the Times, calling the events “a national tragedy.”
“We have these unique animals not found anywhere else on this planet, and we’re killing them,” Flanagan said. “This is a big wake-up call.”
Meet Kate. She was saved by rescuer Darrel from Bellangry State Forest, NSW east. Kate suffers from extensive burns to her entire body. She is the lucky few. Kate arrived dehydrated & sore but is in the best care at Koala Hospital. Great team effort from donors, volunteers etc ❤ pic.twitter.com/SVyWLjaiTo
— Miz One Teaspoon (@MizOneTeaspoon) November 13, 2019
The Times reported that koalas are threatened by both climate change and human development. One study found that the koala population in a certain region declined by about 80 percent between 1995 and 2009.
David Bowman, a pyrogeography and fire science professor at the University of Tasmania, told the newspaper that the government needs to change its conservation methods, and called for officials to feed and relocate the animals.
“You want koalas?” he said. “That’s what we’ve got to do.”
Conservationists told the newspaper that about 350 of the nearly 700 koalas that were living in the area had been killed amid the fires near Port Macquarie, which is about 240 miles from Sydney. One baby koala and 22 adults reportedly had been saved as of Thursday.