Wharminda farmer saves koala on Kangaroo Island

A local firefighter on a deployment to fire-ravaged Kangaroo Island has seen first-hand the impact on local wildlife.

RESCUE: Ben Masters with the injured koala he rescued while assisting firefighting efforts on Kangaroo Island. Photo: Supplied.

RESCUE: Ben Masters with the injured koala he rescued while assisting firefighting efforts on Kangaroo Island. Photo: Supplied.

Earlier this week Wharminda CFS volunteer Ben Masters spent three days assisting firefighting efforts on the island as emergency responders continue to battle flare-ups despite the milder conditions.

Fires over Christmas and into the new year have burnt a significant amount of the island and devastated the local wildlife population.

On the morning of his team's first stint, they spotted a lone koala while putting out embers in the scrub.

"He was sort of just sitting on the ground at the base of the tree," Mr Masters said.

"We saw all his paws and a bit of his nose was quite red and a bit hot and burnt."

Despite having never held a koala before, Mr Masters was the one to approach the wounded animal and to bring him to the truck.

"He wasn't too happy getting picked up, he was just so exhausted," he said.

Mr Masters said his protective clothing helped him avoid harm, with the koala soon calming down after it was offered water.

The koala rode with Mr Masters in the truck back to safety, where it was then passed on to State Emergency Service wildlife experts.

Mr Masters said while he was never told of the koala's fate, he was confident its injuries were minor.

The koala was desperate for a drink when offered. Photo: Supplied.

The koala was desperate for a drink when offered. Photo: Supplied.

"He was just just exhausted and really dehydrated and really hot," he said.

The rescue was a positive in what was a confronting trip, where the team saw first-hand the significant loss of wildlife and smaller animals still trying to escape the fires.

Mr Masters said it was "shocking" to see the impact the fires had on local farmers who were assisting in any way they could.

"It's devastating over there," he said.

He said he had never seen a fire as destructive as this one.

"There's just nothing you can do... no amount of water can put it out."

Mr Masters said it was encouraging to see the response from the wider South Australian community, with people from across the state doing whatever they could to help.

"You just show up and see the devastation and you just end up busting your guts to do as much as you can.

"All we can do is put in a bit of help here and there and hope they'll get on top of it in the next month."