In the wake of recent devastating bushfires, Taronga Conservation Society Australia is enacting its response to save and restore vital species and habitats that have been heavily impacted and destroyed. In the wake of recent devastating bushfires, Taronga Conservation Society Australia is enacting its response to save and restore vital species and habitats that have been heavily impacted and destroyed.
Taronga Conservation Society Australia, CEO, Cam Kerr addressed the current situation saying: “For months now, fires have been raging across our beloved country. The impact on families, their homes, our forests and our wildlife has been devastating and heartbreaking. Our hearts go out to all those affected.
“These fires, combined with persistent drought, have decimated already fragile animal populations. While it is too soon to know the exact scale of the impact to Australian wildlife, the number of animals believed to have perished as a result of these catastrophic conditions is estimated to be in the hundreds of millions,” said Kerr.
Throughout this immediate crisis, Taronga has been involved in a number of emergency response operations, helping to save wildlife from the devastation of these bushfires and droughts by providing emergency shelter, medical care and rehabilitation for an unprecedented amount of displaced and injured wildlife.
Immediate actions in the response to current emergency include:
• Taronga's Wildlife Veterinarians and Veterinary Nurses are mobilising to support rescue efforts and rescue centres in fire affected areas, and are currently awaiting advice from regulatory agencies on the ground as to where they will be deployed.
• Taronga is caring for an unprecedented number of injured and rescued wildlife impacted by the bushfires, heat stress and drought. This includes koalas, bats, wallabies, echidnas and more.
• Taronga continues to care for 12 genetically valuable koalas who were rescued from the path of fire in the Blue Mountains by research group Science for Wildlife. It has since been confirmed that fire has destroyed their habitat. Taronga is providing expert care until it is deemed safe for the koalas to return to the wild.
• A number of orphaned, heat-affected grey-headed flying fox are being fostered by Taronga staff after having been bought to the Wildlife Hospital by volunteer wildlife groups from across the state.
• Taronga has platypus in our care that have been rescued from drying river systems. Taronga is providing expert care until conditions improve.
Following an initial crisis phase, Taronga will turn its attention to assessing the damage and impact to vital species and setting a long-term recovery strategy.
“After we have dealt with the imminent crisis, we will settle in for the long haul and utilise our unique skills in small population management and breed and release programs to re-establish healthy, genetically valuable animal populations of endangered and threatened species,” said Kerr.
In November, Taronga launched a Koala Emergency Appeal to support Taronga's immediate and long-term strategy to ensure the ongoing survival of koalas in the wake of this crisis. Contributions to this appeal have been – and will continue to be – critical in safeguarding the survival of this national icon.
“Now, with a better view of the full scale of the devastation caused by these bushfires and the ongoing impacts of the drought, it has become clear that our response will need to be bigger, broader and able to provide care and support for a much wider range of species,” said Kerr.
In order to achieve these critical outcomes and provide Australia's wildlife with the support it needs to recover from these devastating conditions, Taronga has extended their focus to the Taronga's Wildlife Crisis Appeal.
“There is much to be done, but with Taronga's drive and expertise and your ongoing support, we remain hopeful that together we can ensure that Australian wildlife has a fighting chance,” said Kerr.
To find out more and to donate, please visit www.taronga.org.au/savewildlife