Thousands of koalas are feared to have perished in the devastating bushfires still raging across the state, leaving populations at tipping point.

Koalas are particularly vulnerable to bushfires as they are slow moving and live in eucalyptus trees that burn quickly and intensely. When fires sweep through their homes, they often don’t have time to escape and can be incinerated, particularly in intense crown fires that rage through the tree tops where they live.

Koalas can survive for weeks after a fire, suffering from burns and smoke inhalation as they try to escape up trees. Many are still out there in inaccessible areas or active fire-grounds with their homes and food sources destroyed.

Search and rescue teams are trying to locate survivors, but it is a huge challenge. Camouflaged high in the tree tops, koalas are difficult for the human eye to spot. This is where the skills of Bear, IFAW’s koala detection dog, come in.

Bear is part of a team at the Detection Dogs for Conservation Centre at the University of the Sunshine Coast and is trained to detect live koalas through the scent of their fur. Bear is a rescue dog, like all of the dogs at the centre - his obsessive nature and tireless energy made him an unsuitable pet, but also made him the perfect detection dog.

On Friday, Bear and his handler Rianna joined a search and rescue effort in the Northern Rivers region with our partners Friends of the Koala. We searched an Indigenous Protected Area, Ngunya Jargoon, which had been devastated by the two fires that swept through over the past month.

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Senior Indigenous Ranger Grant Rhodes, whose team protects this biodiversity and cultural hotspot, kindly guided us around the site with local koala researcher and rescuer Maria Matthes. The 1,000 hectare area of woodlands, rainforest and eucalypts forms a vital corridor where an estimated 20-40 koalas live. Up until the fires, this area presented a refuge and a lifeline for iconic species impacted by nearby development. Now it is a blackened, smoldering crematorium with 85% of it burned.

Grant and Maria already helped save two koalas from the aftermath of the fire. The survivors, named Jalu and Kajika, are undergoing rehabilitation with Friends of the Koala. Kajika is currently in the expert hands of IFAW vet nurse Marley Christian at Friends of the Koala and is expected to be released soon once a suitable site is located.

Maria recently spotted three more survivors, including a young koala with minor burns in a tree. She set a trap but unfortunately he escaped. So we brought in Bear to help.

With winds up to 30km, the conditions were not ideal for Bear’s tracking, but he indicated possible koalas at a number of spots. Thanks to Bear’s work, we know that there are live koalas in the area and we will continue to search to rescue any koalas who need our help.


A woman rescued a badly burnt and wailing koala from an Australian bushfire on Tuesday (November 19).

The marsupial was spotted crossing a road amongst the flames near Long Flat in New South Wales.

A local woman, who told Australia's Nine News her name was Toni, rushed to the koala's aid, wrapping the animal in her shirt and a blanket and pouring water over it.

She said she would transport the injured koala to the nearby Port Macquarie Koala Hospital.

The country's koala populations have been a major victim of the flames, with more than 350 of the marsupials feared killed in a major habitat.

Population estimates for koalas, native to Australia, vary widely, from as few as 50,000 to little more than 100,000.

They dwell mostly in eucalyptus forests in eastern states and on the coastal fringes, usually living up to 20 years, carrying their young in a pouch and sleeping for up to 18 hours a day.

Australia is prone to bushfires in its dry, hot summers, but fierce blazes have been sparked early, in the southern spring, by a long drought and soaring temperatures.

Bushfires have so far this month claimed at least four lives, burnt about 2.5 million acres (1 million hectares) of farmland and bush and destroyed more than 300 homes.

The current bushfire crisis has mostly been contained to the east coast of NSW and Queensland states, but officials in South Australia warned on Tuesday that forecast near-record temperatures raises the risks in that state.


A U.S. Marine medic, previously stationed in Afghanistan, was able to use his field skills back home... when he came to the rescue of four orphaned rabbits.

Joshua Bisnar, a Naval Hospital Corpsman, found the helpless bunnies alongside their dead mother while he was raking the volleyball court at Camp Pendleton, in San Diego, California, where he was stationed with a Marine Corps unit. He scooped up the animals and carefully placed them in a makeshift home - consisting of a box with a few old shirts to make it more comfortable.

To feed them, he researched a formula mixed with probiotic he found at Petco pet store and purchased four small droppers to administer the formula into the hungry mouths three times a day. And clearly a fan of guitar players, he named them James (after Jimi Hendrix), Steven, Raymond and Vaughan (after Stevie Ray Vaughan).

Bisnar said: 'I would feed them at about 6am before work, 12pm at lunch and 6pm.

'I was so scared to go to work or leave them alone, I should have given them to a wildlife sanctuary but I was scared that the car ride would be too traumatic but It was amazing how fast they grew up.

'They got out of that ugly newborn phase and started looking like fluffy little bunnies after one week.

Soon they were hopping around their modified cage I made them.'

He added: 'It was about the second week that they started jumping against the side of the box at about 2-3am trying to wake me up for another feeding. That's when it went to four times a day.

'It was adorable. I always knew when they were hungry because they would all bunch up and look up at me during the day when I walked by and when I would put my hand in the box, they would all run up and fight to jump into my hand for feeding.'

Mr Bisnar started weaning them on to arugula (rocket salad) and slowly incorporated some of the natural foods found in southern California - including dandelions and grass.

Then one day, the combat medic went back to his room to discover there was one just sitting in the hallway looking at him - and he knew it was time to let them go. Mr Bisnar said: 'I'm originally from Newport Beach, California, so the next weekend I brought them to a wildlife conservation place off of PCH in Huntington Beach.

'The lady that worked there was amazed about how a Military member from Camp Pendleton raised four bunnies with a 100 percent survival rate.



A Pit Bull and adult Flemish giant rabbit aren’t the first pair of animals to come to mind when you think snuggle buddies. But that’s what’s happened in Mindy Hayes’ home.

“My pitbull is amazing and this shows that it’s NOT the breed. Grace originally was used for fighting, later ended up tied to a tree (we don’t know for how long), then to The Anna Shelter, then I adopted her. She was only 10 months old. Now she is a fun, loving, crazy wild girl,” Hayes shares on Facebook.

But Grace wasn’t so crazy or wild that Hayes thought she might be a danger to Sophie, the rabbit she brought home last year. She still took things carefully, however.

Grace and Sophie were introduced to one another cautiously at first, but soon it became apparent to Hayes that the two shared an instant connection. “They sniffed one another, and they just blossomed from there,” she told the Dodo.

The two now snuggle together on the couch every day. Sometimes, Grace gives Sophie a groom, which the rabbit doesn’t seem to mind one bit.

Hayes adds that “Grace would groom Sophie until she is sopping wet if I let her!”

The dog and bunny love to spend time in each other’s company and their loving friendship is a marvel to Hayes’ friends and acquaintances. But it’s no surprise to Hayes who says Grace and Sophie are both happy, sociable and loving to everyone. She writes, “The bond these two have is unbreakable.”

FACTS: Pit Bulls are strong, engergetic, agile and powerful dogs. The are also very resourceful and driven. “Determination” is one of their most notable traits. Whatever they set out to do, they will put their heart and soul into it. Whether it’s escaping out of an inadequately fenced yard to explore the neighborhood or destroying your new couch when left home alone or climbing into your lap to shower you with kisses – they just don’t give up easily.

Stahlkuppe (1995) writes: “The American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) or the Am Staff, is certainly not the right pet for everyone. Being a powerful dog, it will require sufficient and adequate control. Some prospective elderly owners or children, will not be able to supply that control. A first time dog owner, in the minds of many experienced dog breeders, should not buy an APBT or an Am Staff. An insecure person who wants only an aggressive dog to bolster some personal human inadequacy should never become an owner of one of these dogs.”

Another very important characteristic of Pit Bull dogs, is their amazing love of people. These dogs are indeed remarkably affectionate, and crave human attention. They are wonderful cuddlers and nothing beats a belly rub. In fact, most Pit Bulls think they are lap dogs!


The Missouri rescue organization Mac's Mission has rescued plenty of puppies and older dogs in its time, but none has captured the internet's attention quite like a 10-week-old puppy called "Narwhal the Little Magical Furry Unicorn."

Why the unicorn moniker? Because of his magical horn, of course. The puppy has what appears to be an extra tail on his face.

He was found on November 8 with another older dog, "dumped in rural Missouri, where we have hundreds dumped," Mac's Mission told Insider.

Immediately, Narwhal's adorable face was hard to resist.

While Narwhal may not be the traditional version of "perfect," it's what makes him perfect for Mac's Mission. The animal shelter says it "specializes in special" and focuses on "the homeless 'janky' dogs who would die without us."

We wouldn't dare call Narwhal janky, but the extra tail could have been what led to his abandonment. He was also brought in with a foot injury.

He went to the vet for some X-rays, and the vet concluded that the tail wasn't attached to anything and shouldn't hinder Narwhal at all.

"He is in no pain and plays for hours," Mac's Mission said — it just adds to him being "the COOLEST PUPPY EVER!"

Unsurprisingly, Narwhal was a hit at the vet too.

For now, Narwhal is still waiting to get neutered and vaccinated before being put up for adoption. Mac's Mission also wants to make sure the tail won't be a problem as this little guy grows.

Will Narwhal let all the fame go to his head? Maybe — but for now, he's just busy being a puppy.