Unprecedented bushfires are spreading across New South Wales, Australia, threatening local wildlife habitats. The Koalas of the region are suffering massive casualties, with some researchers saying that there might not be any koalas left in the area by the time the fires are done.
The rescue of one particular koala was captured on video last week and caught the attention of the world. In the video, the poor koala can be seen disoriented while walking around on the road, attempting to escape from the raging fires.
Bystander Toni Doherty rushed from her vehicle to rescue the animal. When she approached the koala she poured water on him because he was badly burned, and then she wrapped him in a blanket and took him to her car, according to USA Today.
Doherty named the koala after her grandchild, Lewis. Lewis was taken to an animal hospital in Port Macquarie that has experience with koalas. Lewis was among at least 30 different koalas who were treated at the facility for injuries related to the fires.
People from all over the world have donated money to the hospital, bringing in over $1.6 million in additional funds. The hospital said that they have enough supplies to last them 10 years, and they are now equipped to do their best to save the area’s koalas.
Sadly, the hospital announced that Lewis was not as lucky as some of the other animals who they treated in the past few weeks. In a post to social media, the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital wrote that they made the decision to put Lewis to sleep.
The doctors stated that his injuries were far too severe to heal and there was no chance that he would ever get better.
HEARTBREAKING: Last week, a woman took the shirt off her own back and rescued a koala from an Australian bush fire. The…
According to a report published last year by WWF Australia and the Nature Conservation Council (NCC), koalas were already on their way to becoming extinct in New South Wales due to deforestation, and this was before the fires even began.
The report used satellite images of NSW to show how koala habitats were under threat from land clearing. The report found that the rate of land cleared in the region nearly tripled, from 2,845 hectares to 8,194 hectares between 2017 and 2018.
According to the rate of deforestation shown in the satellite imagery, koalas were expected to be wiped out from the region by 2050, but these unprecedented fires are making this a much more immediate concern. It is possible that the last remaining koalas in the region could be lost in this year’s fires.
Deborah Tabart OAM, chairman of the Australian Koala Foundation, estimates that over 1000 koalas in Australia have been killed in the last two months from deforestation and bushfires, according to AU News.
The bushfires in New South Wales have been devastating, and the rescue of Lewis the koala was one of the very few positive stories to come out of the situation. Sadly, the story of Lewis the koala ended in tragedy, and he has become a symbol for the many koalas who have lost their lives in these fires.