Teen Rescues Koala Singed in Kangaroo Island Bushfires

After bushfires ripped through Kangaroo Island, 19-year-old Micah Lovegrove and his family set up an impromptu rescue operation to recover some of the koalas that had been caught up in the catastrophic event.

Assessing the area where his uncle’s house had once stood after bushfires ripped through the South Australian island, the young man and his family found a koala huddled near the destroyed property on January 2.

A towel is thrown over the animal in the footage, as Lovegrove told Storyful, “when they can’t see, they’re easier to handle.” The marsupial was transferred to a car, where it can be seen in the video sitting on the passenger seat with its paw on the window.

After this rescue, Lovegrove began to look for other distressed koalas in surrounding blue gum plantations. “We’d run up and down aisles [of the plantations] picking up koalas and checking to see if they looked okay to leave behind,” Lovegrove told Storyful. “If they were responsive, could climb, and had a good coat, we left them,” he added.

“We’d move the car, go running again, pick up some. Rinse and repeat,” he said. This all took around 30 minutes, after which, Lovegrove said, “because of the dynamic of personalities and which ones were aggressive, we decided we probably had enough for now. Wouldn’t want a huge fight to break out.”

The koalas were brought to his neighbors, who, according to Lovegrove, have a permit to care for native wildlife.

Koalas were introduced to the biodiverse island in the 1920s and flourished in the area to the point that a government program was introduced in 1997 to reduce their numbers.

Bushfires on Kangaroo Island were estimated to have killed 25,000 koalas and have burned through more than 160,000 hectares of land (about 618 square miles) on the island by January 7 according to local media. South Australia’s Country Fire Service chief officer Mark Jones was quoted as saying, “this is still a large fire which is not controlled.” Credit: Micah & Caleb via Storyful