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Australia wildfires' devastating impact on iconic wildlife

Sheila Bailey, Judy Brady and Clinical Director Cheyne Flanagan tend to a koala named Paul from Lake Innes Nature Reserve as he recovers from burns at The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital
Port Macquarie Koala Hospital clinical director Cheyne Flanagan tends to Paul the koala, from Lake Innes Nature Reserve, as he recovers from burns. Photo: Nathan Edwards/Getty Images

Australia's wildlife carers are set to work "around the clock" through Christmas to deal with the impact of the deadly wildfires on the country's unique wildlife, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: The fires have burned an estimated 12 million-plus acres across the country, per the Guardian. The impact on wildlife has been devastating, particularly for koalas. Conservationists fear over 2,000 of the marsupials have died in the blazes, SBS News reports.

The state of play: Cheyne Flanagan, clinical director of Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, told Reuters staff are caring over Christmas for 72 koalas affected by the blazes — and they're preparing for more, "particularly for baby animals stressed by hot weather, bushfires and drought."

  • A fund-raising page set up for the hospital to help koalas in October, a month after the bushfires broke out, had raised $2.1 million by 10 p.m. Tuesday Eastern Time.
  • Across the country, tales of heroism are emerging as Aussies step up to help rescue native wildlife — including some involving remarkable four-legged heroes.

Go deeper: In photos: Deadly wildfires rage across Australia