By Dyani Lewis
Smoke hung thick in the air and shrubland was still smouldering when firefighters escorted a small team of biologists into Kosciusko National Park in southern New South Wales on 15 January.
The expedition, granted a rare exemption from the park’s strict no-go policy during this record-breaking fire season, was to prevent one of Australia’s rarest fish from going extinct.
Rain forecast for the following day threatened to wash ash from the fires into the mountain streams, smothering the last remaining Galaxias tantangara, a species of mountain minnow found in a single three-kilometre stretch of the Tantangara Creek. The expeditioners collected 142 fish as an insurance population to be bred in captivity, a first for the species, in case it disappears in the wild.
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