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Makeshift koala hospital scrambles to save dozens injured in bushfires

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Dozens of injured koalas arrive at the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park’s makeshift animal hospital each day in cat carriers, washing baskets or clinging to wildlife carers.

Injured in bushfires that have ravaged the wildlife haven off the coast of South Australia state, there are so many marsupials currently requiring urgent treatment that carers don’t have time to give them names — they are simply referred to by a number.

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Among them is Koala Number 64, who was brought in with burns to all four of his paws.

Stretched out on a surgical table in a bustling tent, he has been sedated so the wounds can be examined and treated.

“It’s healing nicely,” says veterinarian Peter Hutchison, explaining the koala had already benefitted from a few days’ of treatment.

Not all rescued koalas have been so lucky. Many are found so badly injured that they need to be euthanised.

Steven Selwood, South Australia Veterinary Emergency Management team leader at the hospital, says around 46,000 koalas were thought to be on the island before this year’s bushfires.

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It is estimated as few as 9,000 remain, Selwood says, describing the figure as “pretty devastating”.

“The fires here were particularly ferocious and fast-moving so we’re seeing a lot less injured wildlife than in other fires,” he tells AFP.

“A lot of the wildlife was incinerated.”

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Australian Environment Minister Sussan Ley said the country’s koala population had taken an “extraordinary hit” as a result of bushfires that have raged for months, suggesting they could be listed as “endangered” for the first time.

Kangaroo Island is the only place in Australia where the population is entirely free of chlamydia — a sexually transmitted infection also found in humans that is fatal to koalas.

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That has made them a key “insurance population” for the future of the species — and even more crucial now that large numbers have died in bushfires on the Australian mainland.

Almost half of Kangaroo Island has been razed by fire and an estimated 80 percent of koala habitat wiped out.

This widespread destruction has left rescuers with a tricky proposition — what to do with the animals once they have recovered.

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For now, that issue is on the back burner as teams of vets work overtime to save as many as possible.

“He’s going to need another week (to recover) and will need to be kept caged after that,” Hutchinson tells AFP as he wraps a pink bandage around Number 64’s paw.

“Because there’s no habitat for him to go back to at this time.”

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Chinese fans grieve for NBA superstar Kobe Bryant after helicopter crash

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NBA star Kobe Bryant's death triggered an outpouring of grief on Monday in China, where he was beloved by fans, with a hashtag of the news drawing more than a billion views.

Nine people were killed in a helicopter crash including Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter, Los Angeles officials confirmed on Sunday.

Basketball is arguably the most popular sport in China, and Bryant -- a five-time NBA champion who blogged for Chinese internet giant SINA in 2009 -- was among the first American stars to garner a large fan base in the country.

He remained popular in China after his retirement in 2016, frequently engaging via social media with Chinese fans.

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Bolton’s firsthand evidence puts senators in the difficult position of believing ‘bizarro’ Trump team argument: Legal experts

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Former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal and Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe agreed that the recent revelations from John Bolton, puts Republicans in a difficult position. Bolton's manuscript confirmed that President Donald Trump's bribery scheme puts senators in the difficult position of being faced with firsthand witnesses they've tried to block.

Republicans were given multiple opportunities to agree that they would like to hear witnesses and new evidence as part of the impeachment trial in the Senate, but each time, they voted against it. But with the news Bolton released Sunday night, it forces senators to acknowledge they deny even firsthand evidence of Trump's guilt.

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Democratic senator says she gets more ‘disheartened’ every day hearing GOP deny evidence and witnesses

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Day after day, Republicans senators find new excuses to dismiss the evidence they hear that in any courtroom would convict an ordinary American citizen. It was enough to make normally happy Sen. Debbie Stabenow (R-MI) feel "disheartened" by the whole process.

"As somebody from Michigan, we believe in commonsense, and you can't look at all this and say, 'is this how somebody would act if they were innocent?'" said Stabenow. "And you can't look at this and say, 'Is this how somebody would act if they were innocent?' All of this coming out over and over again. I'll never forget Adam Schiff on the floor saying to all of us, 'Nobody's saying, well, gosh, Donald Trump would never do that.' The truth is it's all about will he get away with it? It's all about, are they going to be successful in hiding it and so on?"

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