More than a hundred fires are burning across Australia right now, according to the BBC. Temperatures have raised in some places to over 104 degrees, and strong winds are blowing not only the fire itself but gusts of heat across the continent. Huge swathes have been evacuated, as officials warned people holidaying along the coast that they might be cut off from the rest of the country by the rising wall of flame. So far there have been eight deaths recorded that are linked to the fires.
A less frequently told story is what is happening to wildlife in Australia. The country is practically a nature preserve, full of creatures that exist nowhere else on earth. many of them are being killed in the devastation or driven from their homes, desperate for food and water.
A video of one koala has gone viral. The little grey marsupial approached a human cyclist to beg for water, which she fed to it via her water bottle.
The Independent reports that the cyclist was near Adelaide in southern Australia and her name is Anna Heuseler. The group of riders saw the koala sitting in the middle of the road and it ran up to them as they approached.
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There were about a dozen cyclists around me watching this (all men) and several commented that it was genuinely the best thing they’ve witnessed. What a truly wonderful experience. Check out my previous posts this morning for explanation. : : : #cyclingtips #cycling #roadcycling #roadbike #roadbikelife #lifeonabike #travelbybike #cyclingphotography #cycleshots #rideyourbike #instacycle #veloclub #cyclinglife #fromwhereride #switchbacks #roadslikethese #cyclingpassion #cyclingworld #whenindoubtpedalitout #womenonbikes #womenriders @cyclingtips @veloclub.cc @iamspecialized @iamspecialized_wmn @womenridebikes #rideadelaide #radelaide #adelaide #adelaidehills #southaustralia #koala #koalabear #koalabears #australia
The koala population in New South Wale was estimated to be between 15,000—28,000, but ecologists fear as many as 9,000 have been lost in the fires.
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My new best friend 🐨 coming for a ride on my bike this morning on another 40 degree Celsius day in Adelaide, South Australia 🇦🇺 where we are in the midst of a heatwave and the countryside is burning out of control with bushfires 🔥 for several days now. Devastating losses of homes and wildlife. Brave firefighters. 🙏 : : : #cyclingtips #cycling #roadcycling #roadbike #roadbikelife #lifeonabike #travelbybike #cyclingphotography #cycleshots #rideyourbike #instacycle #veloclub #cyclinglife #fromwhereride #switchbacks #roadslikethese #cyclingpassion #cyclingworld #whenindoubtpedalitout #womenonbikes #womenriders @cyclingtips @veloclub.cc @iamspecialized @iamspecialized_wmn @womenridebikes #rideadelaide #radelaide #adelaide #adelaidehills #southaustralia #koala #koalabear #koalabears #australia
Heuseler told reporters that she’s seen many koalas in the area, but never experienced anything like this before.
“We’ve seen literally hundreds of koalas over the years [but] we have never seen a koala do this,” she explained. “We were descending from Norton Summit Road back into the city early this morning and we came around a bend and there was a koala sitting in the middle of the road. Naturally, we stopped because we were going to help relocate him off the road. I stopped on my bike and he walked right up to me, quite quickly for a koala, and as I was giving him a drink from all our water bottles, he actually climbed up onto my bike. None of us have ever seen anything like it.”
In addition to needing water, the species staple food, eucalyptus trees, have been going up in smoke. Rescue efforts have not been able to reach the koalas in time to protect them from dehydration and starvation.
While the video seems astonishing and even adorable to some viewers, many responded by saying how abnormal it is for a koala to approach humans:
Thank u for sharing and helping raise awareness. Our Gov isnt acting. Koalas dont seek out humans and dont need water usually. We have lost so many in the fires now we suffer another heatwave and risk more fires.— 🔥unprecedented = climate change (@ForgotBeauty) December 29, 2019
From a Heartbroken and angry aussie🇦🇺🐨💔
The poor thing has to be desperate to approach a human. Lucky he picked a kind hearted person. They have no idea that we are the cause of their suffering.— Robert Mihaly 🇫🇷 (@RobertMihaly1) December 29, 2019
This is happening more and more often. Koalas don't usually approach people. These koalas are so desperate they have no choice. They are dying of thirst and starvation as their eucalypt forests are drying out and burning. This is catastrophic for the koala population.— Cat A Strofic (@Count_to_17) December 29, 2019
Sadly, this is not a cute sight 😔 the koalas are starving, dehydrated and extremely stressed to even approach a human in the first place. Most will die because they have nothing to survive on.— Random Sarah (@random_pest) December 29, 2019
This koala needed urgent rescue.
Climate disasters are destroying far more than human habitats. They’re ruining the lives of animals all over the planet, who have no defense. This one koala is a reminder of how much there is to lose.