Emergency Update January 2020

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

It is with shock that we continue to face the unfolding fire and drought catastrophe in NSW and Australia.

Over 4.9 million hectares of land has been burnt in NSW alone this season. Distressingly the fires in Australia to date have burnt more land that the tragic Californian wildfires and Amazon fires combined. 

Speaking with Professor Chris Dickman from the University of Sydney, the updated estimates as of 4th January were that more than 800 milion animals would have been affected and this figure is rising daily.

Due to the intensity, severity and size of the massive fires, few animals survive and the loss of wildlife and their habitat is heartbreaking. 

NSW is again in a State of Emergency, there are over one hundred fires still burning and there is little relief in sight with ongoing fire threats and extended drought conditions expected. For over 30 years WIRES has been rescuing and caring for wildlife and never before has the organisation experienced emergency conditions like these. 

WIRES NSW Koala Coordinator Vickii Lett described the current emergency events this way:

"As a wildlife carer it is difficult to describe how it feels to witness the terrible destruction of our wildlife and their homes in our native forests. We are rescuing and caring for many species including our iconic koalas who have been so terribly impacted not just by these fires but by habitat loss which leads them to be exposed to many threats. Possums, gliders, birds, kangaroos and wallabies have all been impacted, as well as animals like our koalas, grey-headed flying-foxes and our amazing tiger quoll which were already considered vulnerable to extinction even before these horrendous fires. 

Words being used to describe these fires are unprecedented and ferocious both are accurate. We have lost countless precious lives in these fires and many more are likely to die of their injuries and starvation. The fire affected areas are vast and remote. Our beautiful and diverse World Heritage listed National Parks which provide our native wildlife with their best protections have been devastated. As carers with our Veterinarians we do our best to care for the injured and displaced wildlife and hope to return them to their forest home. We wait to see how our forests recover over time. It is all so fragile and if not valued easily lost."

WIRES has over 2,600 incredible volunteers, many of whom have continued rescuing and caring for wildlife during this time of devastation, minimising suffering and saving lives. They have sometimes done this whilst simultaneously dealing with major fire threats to their home and evacuations. There are no words to express the outstanding rescue and care work provided by WIRES volunteers, by wildlife vets and by the volunteers of other wildlife groups, not just during this time of crisis but 365 days a year, every year.

In December WIRES 1300 line received over 20,000 calls and volunteers attended over 3,300 rescues for sick, injured and orphaned wildlife. 

This video was shared with us and we think it helps to convey the unprecedented devastation we are all experiencing in Australia at this time.

#nswfires #australiafires #wildliferescue 

Statement from WIRES CEO, Leanne Taylor.

For immediate release, 10th January, 2020.

In what has become one of Australia’s most severe bushfire seasons, WIRES would like to take a moment to thank everyone for their support.

From funding contributions by businesses, organisations, high profile celebrities and the overwhelming support of the international and local community, we are inspired by your generosity and committed to continuing to provide rescue and care for native animals impacted by the bushfires and preserving and protecting Australian wildlife into the future.

While NSW has been hit the hardest with an estimated 800 million of the 1 billion animals affected to date and approximately 5 million hectares of land burnt, a National Emergency requires a national response and WIRES will act to provide assistance to all wildlife in line with our mission.

The allocation of donations received by WIRES will be used to assist as many animals as possible across our nation - we can and will allocate funding and support to all states and territories where needed to assist animals affected by this crisis. We will soon be announcing some new initiatives that have been made possible through these generous contributions.

Right now, our staff, qualified experts and volunteers are working around the clock to ensure that as many native animals as possible receive the ongoing care, supplementary food and recovery they need. This includes koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, possums, echidnas, birds, reptiles and more.

There is an immediate need to locate, rescue and care for injured animals and while this will be a long process in itself, there is a much longer term focus needed on supporting animals affected by the loss of habitat, the shortage of food and depletion of their populations in the wild. With the imminent risk to threatened species on the pathway to extinction as a result of the mass elimination of habitat, urgent action is needed.

During this difficult time we would also like to make a very special mention and pass on our sincere thanks to the thousands of volunteers across Australia who rescue and care for native animals every day. Volunteers have never experienced a crisis of this scale, but they remain fearless and committed to continuing to put the welfare, care and immediate treatment of our precious wildlife at the forefront of all they do.

Our work could also not be possible without the assistance and expertise of thousands of Veterinarians, Vet nurses, Wildlife Clinics and hospitals and many other agencies who support the critical work of the wildlife rescue and rehabilitation sector in Australia.

Lastly, to all individuals, local communities and everyone else who has assisted in some way whether it be by reporting an injured animal, getting an animal into immediate care, sending supplies, offering water or a cool and safe resting place, we thank you.

For further media information or interviews please contact [email protected].

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