Hundreds of flying foxes, a species of bat listed as "vulnerable" in Australia, died over the weekend as parts of the country registered record-high temperatures.
Help Save the Wildlife and Bushlands, a nature conservation group based in Campbelltown posted details of the dire situation their rescuers were faced with on their Facebook page.
"I don't know how many times I bent down and got on my knees to pick up a dead baby", Campbelltown colony manager Kate Ryan told the Cambelltown MacArthur Advertiser. "It would be like standing in the middle of a sandpit with no shade", he added.
Emergency warnings were issued both in Victoria and in the nearby state of South Australia, where authorities advised residents of a rural area to seek shelter in buildings from an out-of-control fire.
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Sydney recorded its hottest day since 1939 on Sunday when the suburb of Penrith reached 47.3C (117F). "Hundreds of mainly young flying-foxes were lost to the heat yesterday & the final count could run to thousands". The group cited a headcount of around 200 dead bats, but noted that hundreds more were trapped in trees and were completely unreachable. The group instead advised people to call the volunteers and help flying foxes lying on the ground in the meantime by sheltering them with umbrellas or spraying the animals with a very light mist.
The state's emergency management commissioner, Craig Lapsley, said hot temperatures had combined with dry weather, strong winds and a wind change to create dangerous conditions.
Animal welfare volunteers in the suburb of Campbelltown did their best to hydrate flying foxes suffering heat stress while not disturbing the colonies.
The animals fell from the trees as they were boiled alive in temperatures exceeding 104 degrees Fahrenheit in Campbelltown in New South Wales.
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Currently, a record-breaking heatwave is sweeping across Western Sydney, and sadly this is having a devastating effect on the local wildlife.
There was good news, though: More than 100 bats were nursed back to health despite the heat, the Advertiser reports.
Australia is home to four species of flying fox: black, grey-headed, spectacled and little red.
Australia is experiencing a heat wave that has gone on for some time. "It was a long and heartbreaking afternoon", the post read.
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"In extremely trying conditions volunteers worked tirelessly to provide subcutaneous fluids to the pups that could be reached and many lives were saved but sadly many were lost too", WIRES said on Facebook.