This young hunter is being hailed a hero after he saved nine injured koalas from the wildfires in Victoria, Australia.
After the fires have died down, Patrick Boyle went on a solo rescue mission in the eucalyptus forests outside Mallacoota to retrieve injured wildlife. He completely understood that entering an unsafe and scorched area in East Gippsland was a reckless move, but the 22-year-old also knew that someone had to do it.
On Friday, he posted a photo of him on Instagram holding one of the koalas he rescued. The marsupial was wrapped in a blanket – the look of distress apparent in its face.
Patrick began rescuing koalas after a friend of his uncovered a frightened one cowering under the pump of a water treatment plan. This heartbreaking discovery spurred him to take matters into his own hands. Though he knew that plenty of locals were supporting each other, only a few had been able to help the animals.
He had “no idea what to expect,” but the hunter still proceeded with the dangerous mission.
Patrick said that it didn’t take long for him to find the first koala. As he dove deeper into the forest, he came across more and more injured koalas until he ended up rescuing nine.
“I instantly found a burned koala that I took straight back to the wildlife shelter. It was actually remarkable how quickly I found koalas,” he recalled.
Unfortunately, however, not all the animals he found were in good shape.
“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,” Patrick told Stuff.co.nz.
Patrick took the koalas removed from the forest into the nearby Mallacoota Wildlife Shelter – a refuge that was actually just a resident’s house. Patrick appealed for donations to the small shelter that was lacking in resources.
“The place is rammed with koalas and other wildlife all through their lounge and back garden. They have very little resources, so any help that people can give is great,” he said.
Patrick said that based on his hobbies, people wouldn’t really expect him to be on the frontline rescuing animals in the aftermath of the wildfires.
“I’m a hunter – I’m one of the last people that others would expect to help these animals,” he said. “Farmers, hunters and workers are the ones out there actually taking action right now.”
Patrick also shared an update on the Today Show about the koalas’ current condition.
“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,” he said.
The wildfires have destroyed 1,300 homes and left nearly 500 million animals deceased in New South Wales.