Meet Bear, the dog who helped find koalas in Australian bushfires
A dog who was abandoned as a puppy has a new mission: helping find and save koalas injured in Australia's recent devastating bushfires
Trained to find koalas and quolls
Bear, a Cattle Dog cross-breed, is trained to find both koalas and and quolls, another small Australian marsupial, in the wild.
"This is the first year that we have been involved in the fires," Romane Cristescu, his minder and ecologist at The University of the Sunshine Coast, told Reuters. "It is a bit more dangerous than what we usually do."
A bear with protective socks
Bear, who usually looks for sick or injured wildlife for conservation and research purposes in calmer conditions, has been wearing protective socks on his paws to search through areas scorched by fire.
2.5 acres of farmland ravaged
Bushfires have ravaged around 2.5 million acres of farmland and bush across Australia's east coast in recent weeks, killing four people and destroying hundreds of homes.
350 koalas dead
The country's koala populations have also been a major victim of the flames, with more than 350 of the marsupials feared killed in a major habitat.
'We need to protect Koalas'
Sponsored by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Bear has found dozens of koalas in need and for research purposes so far this year, but is yet to find any since starting his bushfire deployment earlier this month.
"With climate change, habitat loss and diseases, koalas are just facing too many threats," Cristescu said. "Those fires are just one of the many things threatening them so we really need to be better at protecting them."
Electricity in Australia cut off
Electricity firms cut off power to thousands of people, more than 100 schools were closed and residents in high risk regions were poised to evacuate on Wednesday as Australia's devastating bushfires opened up a new front.
Treating the rescued koalas
A dehydrated and injured Koala received treatment at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital on November 2, after being rescued from a bushfire that has ravaged an area of over 2,000 hectares.