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Australia wildfires: people rush to help injured animals

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Posted at 11:53 AM, Jan 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-06 15:03:25-05

Animal lovers worldwide and Australian farmers are devastated amid the still growing number of dead and injured animals impacted by the country's massive brush fires.

The catastrophic conditions are also leading to moments of surreal interaction between desperate creatures--and humans.

A couple visiting Kangaroo Island uploaded a video to social media showing an injured koala sipping water from a bottle Sunday, Jan. 5.

Similar clips of other koalas--burned, hurt, or simply trying to out maneuver the flames-- accepting water from passing cyclists or drivers.

In the town of Bendalong in New South Wales, a police officer shared his water with a wandering kangaroo. The officer poured water into his hand and offered it to the marsupial, who took a few timid steps forward to drink from the police officer's hand.

Some experts estimates put the number of animals, including domestic pets and livestock, killed as high as half a billion, with potentially hundreds of thousands of injured and displaced native wildlife.

"Glossy black cockatoo - their habitat's gone," said Samuel Mitchell, Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park Co-Owner. "The Kangaroo Island dunnart, their habitat where they were only found, that's wiped out."

"We have a community spirit here on Kangaroo Island that is not burnable," said Peter Davis, Island Beehive Owner. "It hurts, it hurts to see this, and I don't want anyone to go through this again."

Along with the larger animal species suffering catastrophic impact in numbers from the fire, honeybees are in grave danger of dying out due to loss of habitat.

"If we can't get them onto a resource where there's flowers, nectar and pollen for them, the queens will stop breeding and they'll just decline in numbers."

Nearly 4,000 cattle and sheep have been killed in the fires, said Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday.

The fires have ravaged nearly 20-million acres across the country, an area nearly the size of Austria.

"I haven't been impacted you know from fire like that before. And it would be a terrible way to die," said Andrew Reynolds, a farmer.

Rainfall and milder weather conditions provided some respite in the hardest-hit states of New South Wales and Victoria Monday morning.

The latest fatality brings the total number of people who have died in bushfires to 25. More than 2,000 homes have been lost.