A possum severely scalded by bushfires in Australia’s Blue Mountains laps water from a bowl as her rescuer holds her in a towel. At the same time, at a nearby home, a kangaroo with bandaged toes is moved like a baby by another carer.
As Australia battles wildfires that have destroyed over 4 million hectares (9.9 million acres) across five states, volunteers try to save wild animals trapped in the inferno.
Australia’s bushland is home to a spread of indigenous fauna, along with kangaroos, wallabies, possums, koalas, wombats, and echidnas. Delegates fear that 30% of the koala population on the nation’s northeast coast, or between 4,500 and 8,400, have been lost in the fires.
Authorities have no precise figure on what number of native animals in total have been killed; however, specialists say it’s likely to be in the thousands.
Tracy Burgess, a volunteer at Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Services (WIRES), stated it was very concerning that rescuers weren’t receiving as many animal patients as they’d anticipate.
With limited government funds, WIRES depends heavily on contributions from the general public and the goodwill of volunteers like Burgess, who care for the animals in their very own homes.
The possum being sorted by Burgess was discovered in the rural city of Clarence in the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains area, about 100 kilometers (62.1 miles) west of Sydney.
Another WIRES rescuer, Tracy Dodd, is caring for the severely burned kangaroo that was found in the same city, where fires had destroyed several homes.
WIRES and other organizations often discourage people from feeding wild animals; however, wildfires have urged them to change that advice to encourage individuals to supply much-needed food and water.