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Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life
Koalas are clinging to life in bushfire-ravaged Australia, as seen here on Jan. 9, 2020. Ninian Reed / CC BY 2.0

Australian conservation groups are asking the government to declare koalas endangered after the devastating wildfires this summer killed thousands of them and destroyed 45 million acres of bush that they call home, according to a new report from the conservation group International Fund for Animal Welfare.

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Australian native Koala close up on Raymond Island in the Gippsland Lakes, Victoria. tracielouise / E+ / Getty Images

Australia's iconic koalas cannot catch a break.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A kangaroo tries to move away from nearby bushfires at a residential property near the town of Nowra in the Australian state of New South Wales. SAEED KHAN / AFP via Getty Images

By Jake Johnson

Ecologists at the University of Sydney are estimating that nearly half a billion animals have been killed in Australia's unprecedented and catastrophic wildfires, which have sparked a continent-wide crisis and forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes in desperation.

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A thirsty koala suffering from the soaring temperatures in South Australia was helped out by a group of cyclists who stopped to offer it a drink from their water bottles.

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NOAA-NASA's Suomi NPP satellite flew over the New South Wales fires in Australia on Dec. 16 and found devastation from the ongoing fires. The New South Wales Rural Fire Service is reporting 96 fires are burning and to date the size of the area burned is 1.5 times the size of the state of Connecticut. NASA

The bushfires that have been tearing through New South Wales and Queensland, decimating koala habitats, taxing the water supply, and choking the air since August have claimed six lives. Now, new NASA data shows that the fires have emitted 250 million tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of half thee country's annual greenhouse gas emissions, according to The Guardian. In 2018, Australia's total greenhouse has emissions was 532 million tons of carbon dioxide.

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A video shows a woman rescuing a koala from Australia's wildfires. VOA News / YouTube screenshot

Lewis, the koala who stole the world's heart when a video of his rescue from Australian wildfires went viral, has died.

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A dehydrated and injured Koala receives treatment at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie on Nov. 2 after its rescue from a bushfire. SAEED KHAN / AFP / Getty Images

The recent Australian brushfires and extended drought have decimated the koala population to the point where it may be "functionally extinct," according to an expert at the Australian Koala Foundation, as the Daily Mail in the UK reported.

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A video shows a woman rescuing a koala from Australia's wildfires. VOA News / YouTube screenshot

More than 350 koalas may have died in the wildfires raging near the Australian town of Port Macquarie in New South Wales, but one got a chance at survival after a woman risked her life to carry him to safety.

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A koala at the Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie on April 28, 2016. PETER PARKS / AFP / Getty Images

It is feared that an out-of-control brushfire has taken the life of more than 350 koalas in a koala habitat in Port Macquarie, a coastal town in New South Wales just over 200 miles north from Sydney, according to CNN.

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Wild Koala on the side of the Great Ocean road in Victoria, Australia. John Crux Photography / Moment / Getty Images

Koala species down under are now considered "functionally extinct" as the Australian Koala Foundation (AKF) says there are no more than 80,000 individuals left on the continent. Once a population falls below a critical point, it can no longer produce the next generation, ultimately leading to the species' extinction.

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Koala in a gum tree in Eyre Peninsula, Australia. John White Photos / Moment / Getty Images

As Australia's record-breaking heatwave scorches on into the New Year, one woman's act of kindness to a thirsty animal has gone viral.

Chantelle Lowrie was visiting a camp ground near the Murray River in the Australian state of Victoria Saturday when she saw a koala.

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