Australia is currently being ravaged by some of the most devastating wildfires in its history.
Now, ecologists from the University of Sydney have estimated that 480 million mammals, birds, and reptiles have perished in the blazes which have been burning since September, and this number is expected to rise.This woman risked her life to save a koala from the wildfire:
Mark Graham, a Nature Conservation Council ecologist, told the Australian Parliament that the fires raged "so hot and so fast" that it has resulted in a "significant mortality" of animals - especially those who live in trees.
As per the Independent, he added: "There is such a big area now that is still on fire and still burning that we will probably never find the bodies."
The woman who took the heartbreaking picture below captioned it: "Australian Koala Bears suffering severe thirst in a heatwave. This Koala walked right up to me as I was descending and climbed up onto my bike while I gave him water."
This news comes just days after a farmer was forced to kill his own cows after they were left badly burned by the fire. The heartbreaking incident happened in Coolagolite on the south coast of New South Wales and resulted in the deaths of 20 animals.
As per the Guardian, this has been Australia's worst wildfire season on record, and one of its biggest victims have been koalas. Not only are they slow-moving animals, but they eat from highly flammable eucalyptus trees.
Animal rescue volunteer Tracy Burges made the concerning revelation that fewer animals than expected were being brought to her facility for treatment.
She told Reuters: "Our concern is that they don't come into care because they're not there anymore, basically."
Conditions are expected to worsen further with strong winds and temperatures of 46°C expected on Saturday, the Metro reports.