As wildfires spread across Australia the country's animals are under siege and none more so than the beleaguered Koalas. These tree-dwelling creatures have seen their habitats relentlessly destroyed over recent weeks.
There have been many rescue efforts, official and unofficial, that have been targeting Australia’s koalas. Surprisingly, some of these rescuers have been of the four-legged variety.
TATE Animal Training Enterprises have trained dogs to sniff out koalas by helping them to recognize the scent of the animal and its droppings.
They have joined with organizations currently on scene fighting to save the koalas.
Working alongside key groups like IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare), the New South Wales Parks and Wildlife Service and Friends of the Koalas, Inc., the dogs have been using their noses to identify koalas in need to rescue.
Once the dogs find the scent of the koalas they alert their human helpers who then bring in a human team of koala searchers to comb the area for the animals needing rescue.
When the koalas are found they are taken from the scene to a safer area or, in some cases, to an animal refuge.
According to reports on CNN, Taylor, one of the canine team was responsible for the rescue of a group of 8 koalas including a mum with a joey.
Taylor works by either bringing her human helper to a live animal or to an area where she has located fresh scat.
Taylor, working with TATE Animal Training Enterprises is a key part of putting together what is a very complicated puzzle for teams looking for animals at risk.
Koalas are instantly recognizable mainly because of their cute looks but the fact is that as a species they require a very specific environment to survive.
For food they must have plenty of eucalyptus trees that are established and growing in good quality soil. Regular rainfall is essential and there must also be other koalas living in the area.
The Australian Koala Foundation is concerned that because of the wildfires the species has become more vulnerable.
It is encouraging to note, however, that in some areas of Southern Australia the species is thriving almost to the point where it is overpopulating.
Alongside the koalas, other species have been fleeing from these widespread bush fires.
Shutterstock / Protestors in Australia
Wildfires have long been a problem in Australia but human activities have led to increased global heating which means the fire season is lasting longer than ever. So far, the BBC reports temperatures of over 100 degrees.
Over 400 homes have been burnt down and residents are being evacuated into safer areas. The impact of global warming and climate change cannot be overemphasized.
The knock-on effects from natural disasters make it hard to find anything positive in the situation, however, the wildfires have worked to pull the local and national communities together.
Members of the public are going online to thank those working on the front line including the animal rescuers and their work in saving vulnerable Koalas.
Against this devastating backdrop, there is a wave of appreciation for the bravery of everyone involved in the rescue of the Koala, one of the most loved and recognizable of Australia’s animal species.