Thousands of koalas are feared to have died in a wildfire-ravaged area north of Sydney, further diminishing the population of Australia’s iconic marsupial.
The mid-north coast of New South Wales was home to up to 28,000 koalas but wildfires in the area in recent months have significantly reduced their population.
The risk of fire accelerated on Saturday in the country’s east as temperatures soared.
Koalas are native to Australia and are one of the country’s most beloved animals but they have been under threat due to a loss of habitat.
“Up to 30 percent of their habitat has been destroyed,” Environment Minister Sussan Ley told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “We’ll know more when the fires are calmed down and a proper assessment can be made.”
Images shared of koalas drinking water after being rescued from the wildfires have gone viral on social media in recent days.