Edit: This article has been updated.
Australia’s recent crippling bushfires have decimated koalas’ natural habitat by 1%.
Bushfires have wreacked havoc across the region, tearing through koala habitats, although David Samuel Shiffman in American Scientist maintains ‘the biggest threat facing koalas isn’t wildfires, whose frequency and severity have increased due to climate change, but rather is direct habitat destruction by humans, who are turning wilderness into towns and farmland’.
Since 2012, Koalas have been listed as a ‘vulnerable’ species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List.
Along with bushfires, deforestation is forcing koalas into starvation, as countless eucalyptus trees – the leaves of which are a main staple of a koalas’ daily diet – are brought down.
The recent bushfires have seen a renewed call for the Australian government to enact the Koala Protection Act, written in 2016 but still to be put into action.
Based on the US Bald Eagle Protection Act, it would help to protect koala habitats and eucalyptus trees, as well as protecting the creatures.
People are still leaping in to save the animals, without the assistance of the law: a grandmother became a hero online recently, after she ran into a bushfire to save a burning koala.
Recalling the moment she risked her own life to give the koala, named Lewis, a chance of survival, the woman told 9News:
It was vulnerable, all I could think to do was to try and rescue him. We just jumped out and I knew I needed to put something around him as I ran to the tree so I just took off my shirt and covered him with it and tried to get him out of the fire.
The fundraiser was set up to attract donations to help the hospital treat all the injured koalas. Their initial target was $25,000 – however, at the time of writing, they’ve amassed a whopping $1.45 million from more than 30,000 donors.
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After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BCTJ-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He’s now left his Scottish homelands and took up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.