Hundreds of koalas are feared to have died in an Australian bushfire, animal rescuers say.
The blaze burnt through 2,000 hectares of bush containing a prime koala breeding ground in New South Wales, around 250 miles north of Sydney.
Rescuers said the deaths were particularly tragic as the koalas were of stronger breeds, with one expert calling it a “national tragedy”.
The native species has suffered significant decline in recent decades.
Monitoring groups say koala numbers are falling, with fewer than 43,000 left in the wild. Their decline has been blamed on habitat loss, disease, dog attacks and climate change.
Rescuers haven’t been able to look for survivors as the fire was still burning.
Koalas are common wildlife fatalities in bushfires. The tree-dwelling mammals usually cope by climbing to the top of trees and curling into a ball.