In between working around the clock to battle raging bushfires in South Australia, a rural firefighter paused to rescue a group of stranded koalas.
As fire-ravaged communities mourn and the nation watches the relentless crisis with nervousness and grief, a welcome moment of hope has gripped weary Australians.
Janelle Michalowski took to Facebook to share a remarkable image of one heroic rural firefighter's kind act, which has now gone viral.
The image shows six shell-shocked koalas huddled in the hallway of a home, one of them gripping the wall, a garden hose on the floor beneath them.
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Michalowski explained that in between trying to save local homes in Cudlee Creek in South Australia, a firefighter named Adam paused to rescue the several marsupials.
"Amazing work by a man named Adam and his mates who pulled these guys out of harms way at Cudlee Creek and into safety!" She wrote.
The group Koala Rescue had swung into action since to care for the koalas, she added, applauding Adam's "fantastic job".
"Adam is a firefighter and currently working out in the field – he has made everyone's day."
Michalowski's original heartwarming post has been shared more than 22,000 times and received a number of comments.
Several weeks of raging bushfires across large parts of the country, the worst of which continue to threaten communities in New South Wales, have devastated koala populations.
In NSW alone, North East Forest Alliance fears that more than 2000 koalas have perished; some one-third of the animals' bushland habitat on the north coast has been lost.
The state's Upper House in early December convened an urgent inquiry into the impact of the unprecedented fires on koala numbers.
Mark Graham is an ecologist from the Nature Conservation Council and conceded that the majority of koalas in the path of an intense bushfire had little chance of escape.
"The fires have burned so hot and so fast that there has been significant mortality of animals in the trees, but there is such a big area now that is still on fire and still burning that we will probably never find the bodies," Graham said.
"We've lost such a massive swath of known koala habitat that I think we can say without any doubt there will be ongoing declines in koala populations from this point forward."
Over the course of the bushfires crisis, countless examples of kind-hearted koala rescues have been seen but not all have had a happy ending.
Stunning vision emerged in late November of a grandmother Toni Doherty rushing into charred bushland and tearing the shirt off her back to wrap it around a badly burnt koala, who was named Lewis.
Lewis was taken to Port Macquarie Koala Hospital for urgent care with burns to his feet, chest and stomach.
The rescue captured the hearts of Aussies as well as international attention. Sadly, Lewis was later put to sleep due to the severity of his injuries.
While attention is on the plight of koalas during the fires, experts have urged Aussies to not forget that the animals are at risk year-round.
Earlier this year, a WWF-Australia report made clear the threats koalas face from landclearing, disease and urban sprawl, warning that the animal is on track to be extinct in NSW by 2050.