There have been countless stories of community support and individual acts of kindness towards those affected by the devastating bushfires burning across Australia’s south-east. That compassion extends to native wildlife whose lives and habitat are also at the mercy of the unprecedented bushfires.
Over the weekend, our biodiversity specialist Penny Croupcamp, Zoos Victoria’s Senior Veterinarian Dr Leanne Wicker and vet nurse Evie Tochterman flew in to Mallacoota in East Gippsland to treat koalas, native birds and other wildlife injured during the fires.
Holidaying vet supports local volunteer efforts
Penny acknowledged the efforts of volunteers, led by Melbourne horse veterinarian, Dr Georgia Hedge. “Georgia may not be a wildlife specialist, but her veterinary skills and supplies were invaluable, complementing the work of local wildlife carers. Other visitors also provided support by driving around looking for unburnt bush and food sources.”
The Australian Defence Force, Victoria Police, and a host of volunteers and other organisations are also supporting Victoria’s native wildlife.
Treating injured koalas
Penny estimates around 28 animals were treated over the weekend, including four koalas that have already been returned to the wild. While most of the patients at Mallacoota have been koalas and possums, a tawny frog-mouth and other native birds have also been treated.
“Unfortunately, some koalas died before we arrived and others whose injuries were too severe to treat had to be humanely euthanased.” There are still several koalas being treated with two new arrivals today.
Penny says there is still some habitat around Mallacoota that hasn’t been affected by fire at this stage. “We need to carefully consider where we release wildlife to make sure they aren’t competing for food with other resident wildlife.”
Saving wildlife across fire affected regions
The DELWP/ Zoos Victoria team will remain at Mallacoota until another team can be brought in to relieve them.
Four other Wildlife Triage Units being deployed to fire affected areas will assess injured wildlife. One of the units, provided by the RSPCA, has arrived in Bairnsdale. Once assessed, animals may be released or moved to a wildlife shelter for longer term care and rehabilitation.
DELWP’s wildlife assessment teams are on the ground wherever it is safe, tending to native animals injured during the bushfires.
How you can save Victorian wildlife affected by fires
Please donate to Zoos Victoria’s Bushfire Emergency Wildlife Fund.Wildlife rescue is a job for the experts. If you find an injured native animal, phone the DELWP hotline – 136 186 – or contact a wildlife carer or wildlife shelter.
Page last updated: 08/01/20