As the Australian bushfires continue to burn, a shocking piece of information appeared: since September, over 500 million animals have died because of the flames. Especially hard-hit was the koala population, with many of these animals dying in the calamity.
However, the situation in Australia showed us that people are willing to step up and be the everyday heroes that we need. 19-year-old Micah and 18-year-old Caleb are two such heroes and they’re being praised all over the net. These two cousins drove around Kangaroo Island, rescuing koalas and putting them in their car.
When you’re done with this post, have a read through Bored Panda’s articles about a dog who finds and rescues koalas and Patsy the wonder dog who saved a flock of sheep from the flames. Bored Panda spoke to local Steve, whose cousins drove around Kangaroo Island in a car saving koalas, about the current situation in Australia. Steve remains cautiously optimistic that the wildlife will recover, in time.
“The koala situation is certainly dire, but I remain cautiously optimistic. The fires destroyed a lot of their habitat, but since their primary food source is one that germinates through fire I think we’ll see nature bounce back rather quickly. That’s my hope anyway. The aim is to keep the existing population fed and cared for in the meantime,” he said about the Australian koala population. Scroll down for the full interview.
The teens plan to look after all their new koala buddies until they’re healthy and it’s safe to let them back into the wild. According to Micah and Caleb, around 60 percent of all the koalas they came across had, unfortunately, burned to death.
“This is our little koala rescue. Just trying to collect as many live ones as we can,” one of the cousins can be heard saying in a video clip they shot, showing the interior of their car.
According to Steve, the locals in the midst of the natural disaster are “working tirelessly to help the situation.”
“Some, my mother included, are going and cooking meals for them, others are rescuing wildlife. There have also been a number who have risked the fires to attempt to save their homes with mixed success. My grandparents, for example, were able to save their home. They obviously put themselves in harm’s way by doing so and made the job of the firefighters harder, but it’s hard for some people to just let their whole world burn down.”
“My grandparents bought the home to renovate into their retirement home and have spent years remodeling. They were unable to leave it to chance and while successful their efforts are seen negatively by a number of us,” he added.
Steve explained that he’s sad about the ordeal his country and community are going through. “I grew up on Kangaroo Island and a very large portion is now in ashes. It’s disheartening to see the level of destruction and be powerless to stop it.”
“The entire situation seems to have been preventable to a large degree. Recent changes by the government are perceived by many as being the culprit on what has been the worst fires for a long time. Previously, it was common practice to ‘back burn’ so as to mitigate the risks of fire, but that practice was halted and as such provided the fires with more burning material and made it easier to spread.”
He continued: “Australian trees are prone to fire because they germinate through fire, which is the same issue that California has. If these regulations are not returned to common usage these fires may become a recurring feature of Australian life.”
The world has done little else but talk about the devastation in Australia (and the possibility of WWIII) in recent weeks. In a previous interview with Bored Panda, Ben Jameson who lives on the Gold Coast, near Brisbane, told us that his friends and family are “coming together, donating money where possible, helping each other out, going to communities to help clean up. Like, just regular people. Not emergency services or defense force. Just normal people.”
"A university in Sydney estimates that near 500 million animals have been killed by the fires since September. Half a billion. So many of our animals, wombats, koalas, crocs, platypus, etc. are endangered or threatened species. I don’t think people understand the scale of that number. I’m not sure if our country’s ecosystem and biosphere will recover from this, I really don’t,” Ben told us.
Meanwhile, Sam Mitchell, co-owner of the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park, told the Guardian that people were delivering injured animals to them, including about 50 koalas.
“At least a third of what has been brought in we’ve had to euthanize, unfortunately,” Mitchell broke the sad news. “We are seeing many burns to hands and feet—fingernails melted off. For some, the burns are just too extreme.”