A young 22-year-old hunter is being hailed a hero for risking his own life to save nine koalas injured by the relentless fires ravaging Mallacoota in East Gippsland on the New South Wales coast of Australia.
Patrick Johnson who is more accustomed to hunting animals than rescuing them, said all those he has rescued so far have survived and are now at wildlife shelters.
“They’e all still alive which is good news… some are better than others, some are just dehydrated and shocked, others are really burnt and struggling to eat leaves,” he told a local media outlet.
On the Today show, he admitted he’s not your typical hero. “I’m a hunter – I’m one of the last people that others would expect to help these animals.”
Patrick has been praised for his selflessness in venturing out in the deadly conditions to find injured koala that need rescuing, and a photo he posted on Instagram has gone viral around the world.
This is Patrick Boyle.
Since the fire has passed through Mallacoota this amazing, selfless young guy has been out searching for injured wildlife. This is one of 7 koalas he's saved so far
— DJ (@_CharleeGirl_) January 3, 2020
The hunter from Mallacoota, which has been cut off from the rest of the country by the bushfires, told Stuff.co.nz he went in search of injured koalas after a colleague found one cowering under the water pump.
“I instantly found a burned koala that I took straight back to the wildlife shelter. It was actually remarkable how quickly I found koalas.”
Sadly he found more than 10 that had already died.
Patrick says he’s not alone. He said there are more farmers, hunters and workers out there “taking action right now”.
He believes the worst is over for his area, and said: “Everyone is just doing what they can for each other. Good spirits in the air even though so much has been lost.”
Australians have been warned to prepare for the worst today, and the Mallacoota Community News announced on Facebook an hour ago (04h39 SA time): “Skies are darkening slightly, thick smoke. Burnt black leaves falling once again. Stay safe everyone!”
Patrick is calling for people to please donate to the Mallacoota Wildlife Shelter who are helping care for and rehabilitate the injured koalas and other animals who have been affected by the devastating fires.
The University of Sydney revealed yesterday that it estimates almost 500 million (half a billion!) animals have been killed in NSW, Australia, alone!