‘Dad, everything is dying’: Boy’s heartbreak
"DAD, everything is dying."
Those were the heartbreaking words from Matthew Faulkner, 7, as he cradled a dead wallaby whose habitat had been incinerated by bushfires.
His dad Tim Faulkner, who is president of NSW animal protection organisation Aussie Ark, shared the picture in an emotional video posted to Facebook about the not-for-profit's mission to save the brush-tailed rock wallaby.
The organisation started in 2011 with a focus on saving the Tasmanian devil from extinction and has since expanded. Aussie Ark has been setting food and camera traps to feed the animals amid Australia's devastating bushfire crisis.
Mr Faulkner and his family had been to check the traps, and that's when Matthew found the dead wallaby at Barrington Tops in the Hunter Region of NSW.
"Matt picked it up and said, 'They're all dying dad'," Mr Faulkner wrote in the video.
"Watching him cradle the wallaby felt like I was showing him his future.
"Shortly on the drive home, we saw another. To flee the fires they are coming closer to roads and being hit by drivers."
Mr Faulkner told Yahoo News the heartbreaking moment brought him and his partner to tears.
"The wallaby looked like it just died, his mum and I were both crying. It was very moving in that regard," he said.
"Matty is really empathetic and felt like he needed to cradle and look after it."
He said Aussie Ark was working tirelessly to save what was left of the area's wallaby population but needed people's help.
"Although some have died, the food drops are showing promising results," he said.
"We are working hard to save them. We will continue until they are safe."
Mr Faulkner has also shared videos showing the plight of local koalas.
"Australia is in crisis," he said.
"It has the WORST mammal extinction rate of any country in the world. Home to more than one million species of plants and animals, Australia's wildlife is uniquely ours, found nowhere else in the world.
"Prior to the current fires, over 90 per cent of koala habitat had already been lost with the remaining 10 per cent being fragmented and vulnerable to intense bushfire."
He proposed establishing "Koala Ark", to secure a self-sustaining population of koalas and protect their long-term future in a wild environment, with hopes of building the population within the sanctuary to an effective size of 500-1750 animals.