Wildlife Park Owner Stays Behind To Protect Hundreds Of Koalas From Bushfires As Town Is Evacuated
A dedicated wildlife park owner has vowed to stay and protect hundreds of koalas as the Australian bushfires rage across the country.
Many people living on Kangaroo Island, South Australia, have already fled after the army gave them just minutes to evacuate their homes when a blaze spread near Parndana on Thursday afternoon, January 9.
However, Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park owner Sam Mitchell and his staff weren’t among them.
Sam and his team have stayed to care for the 1,500 animals, including 100 koalas, who are living in the park after being rescued after flames tore across the island on Friday.
The animal lover, who bought the park with his partner Dana Jansen in 2013, said the destruction caused by the bushfires in the last week were ‘horrific’.
Speaking to Sky News, he said:
For every koala we are seeing alive, there are 100 dead.
More than half of the total koala population on the island are already believed to have been killed, however it’s feared this number could skyrocket as the flames spread.
On Thursday afternoon, the Australian Defence Force were seen knocking on door-to-door in a desperate attempt to get all residents evacuated before the blaze hit.
Meanwhile, an evacuation alarm was ringing throughout Parndana, urging residents to leave the area.
More than 145 army reservists and vehicles full of supplies remain on Kangaroo Island for initial recovery efforts.
A water treatment plant has also been established, which should be able to produce up to 250,000 litres per day.
Anyone who remains on the island is living alongside a severe fire risk amid fears the gigantic blaze will jump containment lines and surge once more.
So far, the bushfire crisis has destroyed 160,000 hectares of land and 2,000 homes, killed 26 people and more than one billion animals.
Authorities have now evacuated the town of Vivionne Bay on the south coast over fears houses there may not be able to be protected if the fire moves quickly into the area.
The area is mostly made up of holiday huts and it’s believed there are less than 100 people taking residency there at any given time.
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