For more than six months, Australia has been on fire.
Millions of hectares have burned, dozens of lives have been lost, thousands of homes destroyed – and now a wildlife emergency is unfolding.
It is estimated that as many as one billion animals have been killed. With bushland scorched, more animals are continuing to succumb to the loss of food and habitat.
101 East travels to Kangaroo Island, a tourist destination off Australia’s southern coast which has been ravaged by fires.
Known for its stunning natural beauty and abundance of wildlife, conservation groups are now in a race against time to try to rescue and care for the island’s sick and injured animals.
Evan Quartermain, an ecologist, has been helping rescue as many of the surviving animals as he can, including the country’s much-loved koalas.
About 80 percent of the koalas’ habitat on Kangaroo Island was wiped out by the flames.
“There’s corpses littering the ground. Nothing could have prepared me for it,” says Quartermain. “It’s extremely confronting, the amount of death.”
Another ecologist, Pat Hodgens, is trying to help save one of the world’s most vulnerable species, the Kangaroo Island dunnart, a small mouse-like marsupial.
There were thought to be less than 500 of them before the fires, but nearly all of their habitat has been destroyed.
“This could be the next species to go extinct,” he says.
101 East meets the dedicated people fighting to save Australia’s native animals.