Photos featuring the dead bodies of charred koalas littering the burnt landscape have appeared on newscasts all over the world.
"Up to 30 percent of their habitat has been destroyed," says Sussan Ley, Australia's environment minister. Officials believe they'll find the death poll is substantially higher once "the fires are calmed down and a proper assessment can be made," Ley adds.
While the wildfires have left animal experts scrambling to save as many native species as they can, the strength and scope of the fires has made doing so an uphill battle, says Science for Wildlife director Kellie Leigh.
"We're getting a lot of lessons out of this," she says. "And it's just showing how unprepared we are."
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews declared a disaster across much of the eastern part of the state, allowing the government to order evacuations in an area with as many as 140,000 permanent residents and tens of thousands more vacationers.
"If you can leave, you must leave," Andrews said.
The early and devastating start to Australia’s summer wildfires has made this season the worst on record. About 5 million hectares (12.35 million acres) of land have burned, at least 19 people have been killed, and more than 1,400 homes have been destroyed.
The nation's agricultural sector also suffered untallied losses. Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie said in addition to their livestock dying, farmers were also struggling to feed animals with their supply chains disrupted.
The smoke has also blown across the Tasman Sea into New Zealand, where skies are hazy and glaciers have turned a deep caramel brown. The color change may cause more melting since the glaciers will reflect less sunlight.