BLACK SUMMER MEGA-FIRES

Like much of Southern and Eastern Australia, the Southern Highlands saw two infernos ravage our communities and pristine bushland during the Black Summer season of 2020. Tragically, lives were lost; homes, outbuildings and habitats were destroyed, and vast wildlife including koalas, kangaroos, wombats and wallabies either perished or struggled to survive in the aftermath. 

Despite the travesties, people across Australia and around the globe responded in many extraordinary ways.

Our team member, Jennifer Campbell went into action by organising and collecting daily fresh produce together with other essential field items. Working with the management from Woolworths and Harris Farm in Bowral, Jennifer and her friend, Olga Hromow, established morning and evening food stations for five weeks near drought-ravaged paddocks and along the smouldering bush tracks that traced reserves and state parks.

They also searched the forests, looking for any sign of life. What they saw in some parts was a scene of total devastation.

The infernos in Werai State Forest were so intense that no form of life could remain standing in the aftermath; to the point where the blazes threatened the very existence of numerous species. Yet, the eerie silence was even more profound than the sight of the still-smouldering ground. No matter which direction I went, I was staring into the face of a ghost forest. JC

View Werai State Forest in the aftermath of the fires.

Woolworths Bowral additionally provided us with feed containers, bottles of water and water bowls, pillowcases, gloves, blankets, a medical kit and feather dusters [in the event of finding injured birds]. Other generous community supporters sent us bat wraps, knitted pouches for joeys and myriad first aid supplies.

There was no stockpiling. Everything was utilised with swiftness and precision in the field and at our sanctuary.

We also sent several large boxes of fruit to the Shoalhaven Bat Clinic in Bomaderry for the hundreds of bats that were in rehabilitation. And there was never a shortage of field rescue callouts in conjunction with other wildlife rescue operators.

Thank you to everyone for your community spirit, care and dedication; and especially to Woolworths, Harris Farm and the girls. 

Woody and Kerstin.

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NOTE TO THE COMMUNITY |  Please view this important link for further information on feeding wildlife.

FEEDING SURVIVING WILDLIFE

 

The Aftermath |

There are many ways you can assist injured, sick or traumatised wildlife during the current bushfire emergency and if you come across an animal, most will require immediate access to water, food or shelter. However, it’s important to remember that only a licensed wildlife rescue and rehabilitation organisation or a veterinarian is licensed to take it into their care.

Please call our hotline if you require immediate assistance [our hotline is 0418 427214]. While waiting, try to keep the animal or bird safe and quiet in a covered box and never leave it in the care of underaged children.

Please also view our page what to do in a roadside or field emergency.  And likewise view this link for further information on crown land and national or state forest regulations.

 

The Rules for Feeding Wildlife |

We have put together a brief list of what foods wildlife require and how they need to be fed. While we normally don’t recommend this practice, the rules of engagement have changed as we battle the fires across two fronts.

But before you do go ahead, always consult with a wildlife carer in your immediate area if you have any questions regarding the appropriate food to leave out.

Here are a few tips:

  • All food stations should be monitored and potentially rotated;
  • Leave clean tap water in a bowl [nothing with sugar] and changed daily to prevent disease. Also, position the bowl of water close to the food drops;
  • Never give water straight from a bottle, especially to koalas. Either place water into a cupped hand or a water bowl;
  • Do not place food near the roads;
  • Relevant food should be placed in specific locations [depending on the habitats of  roos, wombats, wallabies, possums, etc];
  • Do not leave food out if there is existing vegetation growing in the area;
  • Food should not be left out to rot;
  • Seeds should never be left on the ground;
  • Never handle a flying fox. You must contact us and a trained officer wearing protective clothing will come to assist;
  • Do not encourage the wildlife to feed at your home; 
  • Always maintain your own safety while the fires remain active; especially if the hollows and undergrowth show signs of heat and smoke.
  • Remember that large trees are also at risk of falling
  • Always consult with us first as we are keeping a vigil on the fires and wind changes.

Foods that are Safe|

  • Apples
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Berries
  • Baby spinach rocket
  • Watermelon
  • Pears
  • Corn
  • Cos lettuce
  • Peas
  • Beans
  • Carrots
  • Pumpkin

Foods to Avoid |

Any brassica vegetables including broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, turnips, collars, kale and bok choy.

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PHOTO: OF ECHIDNA |  [C] J.CAMPBELL