Australia began the New Year fighting bushfires that ripped through the popular tourist state of Victoria. While tens of thousands of tourists and resident are looking for ways to evacuate, one brave soul went into the inferno to save koalas.
Mallacoota lies on the easternmost edge of the state of Victoria, well-known to the tourist trade seeking camping sites along the beach. Residents as well are leaving their from their homes. Over 4,000 people fled to the coastline to date.
"There's no way in or out," Mallacoota resident Jason Selmes told CNN after evacuating his home.
Tourist, Ida Dempsey and her family from Melbourne, escaped by boat which was moored about 200 meters (656 feet) from the shore.
Koalas in Victoria
Koala numbers in south-west Victoria are increasing measurably, with conservationists saying local gum trees are housing more than 100,000 of these furry marsupials.
Despite its innate shyness and tendency to sleep through much of the day, the fires have kept them wide awake seeking refuge. Victoria's koala population has grown markedly compared to other Australian states, so the threat is real. The Port Macquarie Wildlife Hospital, have been inundated with injured koalas since the bushfires began causing habitat devastation in September
22-year-old Patrick Boyle's social media accounts went viral recently for his post on Twitter, commending him as a hero for for trekking through the forest to search for animals to save. So far, it's been reported that approximately 500 million animals have died in New South Wales as a result of the fires.
Boyle posted a touching photo to his Instagram account of him and a koala (see cover photo of this blog) that he saved from the inferno ripping the bushland of East Gippsland.
Hunters & Saviors
In addition to being a conservationist, Boyle is a hunter. As folks would find this combination of interests conflicting, Boyle understands why people might not expect him to be on the front-line saving koalas. "I'm a hunter – I'm one of the last people that others would expect to help these animals. (However it's) farmers, hunters and workers who are the ones out there actually taking action right now," he said.
The rescue mission began after his friend uncovered one of the koalas seeking shelter under the pump of the water treatment plant where he works.
It was then that the 22-year-old decided to take matters into his own hands .
Boyle told the media that to date he has saved nine of these marsupials. "They'e all still alive with is good news... some are better than others, some are just dehydrated and shocked, others are really burnt and struggling to eat leaves," he added.
Mallacoota Wildlife Shelter
Boyle is urging people to donate to the Mallacoota Wildlife Shelter, a center dedicated to providing health and care services for the injured and orphaned native wildlife in this region.
Those interested in donating can visit the Mallacoota Wildlife Shelter's Facebook page to do so.
Primarly Source: ABC News