WRAPPED in each others arms, a mother koala and her little joey clung to a wooden fence post as fire ravaged the bushland around them.
Fortunately, Maria River Gaby and her son Maria River Ken would escape the flames.
Rural Fire Service volunteers spotted the pair on the fringe of the Maria River fire north of Port Macquarie late last week.
Ken McLaughlin was among a five-person rescue team sent to retrieve the animals.
“It was certainly distressing to see them removed from their natural area, food sources and the protection of the treetops,” Mr McLaughlin said.
The anxious koalas were reached at about 4:30pm on Thursday afternoon.
For now, their new home will be the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital.
Koala Hospital manager Cheyne Flanagan said the two animals “were perfectly fine”.
But she was deeply concerned for the many other animals who are set to see a worse fate.
It would be a living hell, she said, for any Australian wildlife caught in the fires still raging in southern NSW.
Certain koala populations, particularly near Port Stephens would be hugely impacted, she said.
“It’s such a struggle for wildlife to keep going,” Ms Flanagan said. “So many species cop it badly, and these fires are going to just decimate some of them.”
Ms Flanagan urged the community to contact the local wildlife rescue group if they spot a distressed animal near the site of a fire.
Some animals, she said, may seem perfectly fine.
But life-threatening radiant burns could lay hidden beneath their fur.
“Weeks later, the cooked flesh will fall off,” she said. “It’s just awful.”
Call FAWNA (For Australian Wildlife Needing Aid) on their 24-hour hotline 6581 4141, if you spot a distressed animal under any circumstance.