A young hunter has become an unlikely hero of the Australian bushfires after he risked his own safety to save a load of koalas.
Patrick Boyle took a brave – if entirely reckless – decision to enter an unsafe area in Victoria in order to rescue the stricken creatures, then shared a photograph of himself on Instagram holding one of the koalas.
He claims that during his excursion into the eucalyptus forests in Mallacoota, East Gippsland, he successfully rescued nine koalas from an almost certain death.
The mission began when a mate of his found a koala cowering under the pump of a water treatment plant, spurring the 22-year-old into action.
Boyle said that it didn’t take him that long to find the first marsupial in need, but he kept on discovering more and more as he went, which led to him saving eight or nine of them.
However, he also found a lot of animals that didn’t make it.
He told Stuff.co.nz: “‘I’ve found eight or nine so far that have been rescued. I found over ten that were dead and about another five that are alive and healthy for the time being.”
Once he’d got all of those he was able to save out of the burning bushland, he took them to the nearby Mallacoota Wildlife Shelter, which is actually just someone’s house, where they are being looked after.
It’s because of his hunting hobby that he’s become such an unlikely hero in his native land. He continued: “I’m a hunter – I’m one of the last people that others would expect to help these animals.
“Farmers, hunters and workers are the ones out there actually taking action right now.”
He also then later shared an update on the creature’s conditions with the Today Show: “They’re all still alive with is good news… some are better than others, some are just dehydrated and shocked, others are really burnt and struggling to eat leaves.”
Now, he wants anyone who is moved by the plight of the creatures, and his efforts to save them, to donate what they can to the Mallacoota Wildlife Shelter as they help all of the wildlife affected recover from the devastating fires.
The bushfires have destroyed large swathes of land and property across Australia. Two people have been killed on Kangaroo Island in South Australia today, bringing the total death toll to 23 according to the Guardian.
As well as that, 480 million mammals, birds and reptiles have been killed and 1,500 homes have been destroyed by the fires.