HUNDREDS of koalas are thought to have been burned alive in Australian bushfires.
The estimate comes from Port Macquarie Koala Hospital as almost 2,000 hectares of land in New South Wales has been razed – including an important koala breeding ground.
Hundreds of koalas are thought to have been burned alive as the marsupials struggle to cope during yearly bush blazes[/caption]
The fire in New South Wales has been blazing for days[/caption]
President of the koala hospital, Sue Ashton said the creatures’ deaths were “a tragedy,” news.com.au reports.
She added: “The beauty of this particular population is that it’s so genetically diverse that it’s of national significance.
“To lose a large part of that population is very devastating.
“What generally happens in a fire is the koala climbs right up to the top of the tree and curls into a little ball.
“So often the flames will just go over the top and singe the outside, but with really intense fires it can burn them alive.”
The blaze is thought to have been caused after lightning struck a tree in the dry bush land in southern Australia, as fires also ravage Tasmania.
The country is now in the midst of record high winter temperatures after its hottest summer ever – with the mercury soaring to 40C.
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The fire has been blazing for several days, over which Port Macquarie Koala Hospital have rallied 150 volunteers to help treat the injured koalas.
Sue Ashton said: “No one can control nature, but there’s sadness because we care so much about the koalas.”
The hot, dry climate down under makes the devastating bushfires a regular occurrence.
The BBC reports that in New South Wales alone, up to 30 homes have been damaged and two men critically injured in the blaze.
Just this morning there were 71 separate bushfires raging across the area, with 30 yet to be contained.
And in September, a heartbreaking image of a singed mum koala clutching her tiny baby as fires ripped through Australia’s Gold Coast went viral.
The emergency crews that came across the injured pair say they were found among scenes of total devastation.
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“Everything was burnt to the ground around them,” Senior-Sergeant Peter Waugh told The Beaudesert Times.
“When we found her it looked like she was lying on top of her young – as if she was cradling it.”
The koala and her young were treated by the Queensland RSPCA.
The koala was spotted shielding its baby from smoke on a fallen tree in blaze-hit Canungra back in September[/caption]
Both animals were cared for by vets from the Australian RSPCA[/caption]
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