Australian Emergency Workers Give Water to Koala Injured by Wildfires

Emergency workers fed an injured koala water, Sunday, January 5, as wildfires ravage Australia’s Kangaroo Island, as seen in a video uploaded to social media.
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READ MORE: It has been described as Australia’s Galapagos Islands and has long been a refuge for some of the country’s most endangered creatures. But devastating wildfires over recent days have undone decades of careful conservation work on Kangaroo Island and have threatened to wipe out some of the island’s unique fauna altogether.

Experts working on the island say the fires have killed thousands of koalas and kangaroos, and also have raised questions about whether any members of a mouse-like marsupial species that carries its young in a pouch have survived. Similarly, it remains unclear how many from a unique flock of glossy black-cockatoos got away from the flames and whether they have a future on an island where much of their habitat has gone up in smoke.

Located off the coast of South Australia state, Kangaroo Island is about 50% larger than the U.S. state of Rhode Island and home to 4,500 people and what was a thriving ecotourism industry. But the wildfires that have been ravaging swaths of Australia have burned through one-third of the island, killing a father and his son and leaving behind a scorched wasteland and a devastated community.