Australia isn’t new to wildfires. However, in recent times, bush fires have wreaked havoc on animals and humans more than ever before. The inferno has killed thousands of local animals, with many more having been injured and left without homes.
Possums, kangaroos, faunas, wallabies, and foxes are just a few out of the animal species that have been impacted by the bush fires. How were the surviving animals rescued? What’s the impact of the bush fires, and what are the responses to this impact? Read on for all the answers.
A series of bush fires broke out across Australia in late 2019 and early 2020. Below are the different ways Australia saved wildlife during the 2019/2020 bushfires.
1. Animals Saving Animals
There’s nothing as cute and tear-jerking as seeing animals rescuing animals. These animals are tireless and their tenacity almost rivals that of the human rescue teams. Yes, you guessed right! Dogs, our best friends, were at the forefront of operation ‘rescue the animals.’
Bear, a detection dog from the University of Sunshine Coast’s Conservation Center, was part of the rescue teams. The dog saving Koalas lives ensured that most of them were in good shape after the rescue.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder notwithstanding, Bear used his topnotch skills to sniff out surviving koalas and carried them to the rescue team.
Asides Bear, Taylor, Manuel, and Tim are a few of other detective dogs that helped rescue wildlife during the bush fires. The dogs also helped track and locate other animals so that rescue teams could relocate them.
The heroic actions of the dogs have endeared them to millions all over the world. Want to know more about dogs? Check here for all you need to know about puppy growth.
Many volunteers made it their point of duty to assist forest workers and firefighters to save the animals. Lots of teens were seen saving animals by going to burnt areas to rescue injured animals. Some people went out of their ways and took the animals home to care for them because their natural habitat had been razed down.
Yes, donating to charity for the rescue of animals helped a lot, but the singular acts of kindness of volunteers won hearts the most. And this isn’t just limited to those that were at the forefront to rescue animals.
Lots of Australians opened their homes to house animals. Some created animal shelters where animals could come by to drink water, eat, and even bring fellow animals into. Dehydrated animals were seen in residential pools cooling off, and the pool owners allowed them. It was all in good spirit.
Usually, people are advised not to feed wildlife so that the animals don’t depend on humans, but this period was different. People were advised to do everything to make the animals comfortable. Volunteer veterinary doctors were also waiting close by to take care of scalded and injured animals. Dog handlers brought their dogs to the burnt sites to help locate animals and carry them to safety.
Aussies and even foreigners sent food items, water, vitamins, knitted blankets, towels, first aid kits, and other essentials down to animal shelter camps to make the animals comfortable.
Many foreigners took the term “humanitarianism” a step further by coming down to Australia to rescue animals. Oh, they’re still etched in minds, the sad pictures of animals scampering out of the bushes to run into the waiting arms of kind human beings.
Most volunteers weren’t covered in protective fire-safety gears as they went out to rescue animals, but they were clothed in kindness, selflessness, and their keenness for protection of animals. Thanks to them, numerous koalas, kangaroos, foxes, possum birds, and the likes were saved.
3. Non-profit Organizations
The impact of non-profit organizations in the rescue of wildlife during the bush fires cannot be overemphasized. Different organizations came together during the wildfires to rescue and take care of injured and orphaned animals.
During the period, Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service (WIRES) staff and volunteers were up and about examining burnt areas to save animals and provide medical care to the injured and scalded ones.
They also partnered with other organizations and agencies to shelter the animals and nurture their natural habitats before reintroduction later. Besides, they’ve been making provisions and preparing for unforeseen events in the coming seasons.
Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) had been preparing for the fire seasons even before the bush fires started. They also took part in the rescue and care of animals.
With their remarkable team spirit display, AWC saw that thousands of animals were rescued from burnt sites and given adequate medical attention by volunteer veterinary doctors.
AWC has continued their efforts even after the fire. They installed emergency fencing round the unburnt area of the Kangaroo Island Dunnart habitat to protect the animals from predators.
They also sheltered endangered species for reintroduction to their natural habitat later. To reduce the likelihood of more massive fire outbreaks, AWC devised technological strategies to manage the patterning of wildfire. They also continued to campaign for fire-sensitive land practices and animal protection.
These are just some of the numerous projects AWC has taken on to protect the animals. Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors, and many more care and conservation organizations also contributed immensely to the rescue and care of wildlife during the bush fires.
4. Volunteer Firefighters
These selfless givers deserve the highest medal of honor the world could ever know. Firefighters were at the forefront of the rescue mission for wildlife. These individuals, plus regular people, took up the special role of firefighters and became knights in shining armor for not just the animals and the Aussies, but the world at large.
Asides their endeavors to put out the fires, firefighters actively took part in rescuing the animals. To assist Australian firefighters, foreign firefighters also joined the crew- a real act of heroism. As a heroic response to the devastation, firefighters came in from Canada, the United States, and some other countries to assist in putting out the fire.
Thousands of firefighters took on the fighting mantle, it was not an easy task, but they won. Some heroes lost their lives in the process, but their presence and impacts linger on. Instruments used in fighting the fire include water-bombing airplanes, air tankers, helicopters, firefighting trucks, and the likes used by the firefighters in combating the fire.
5. Donations From The Public
The donations from individuals and groups went a long way in moving firefighting, rescue, and care operations forward. The contributions were the people’s way of showing solidarity with the people impacted by the devastation caused by the wildfires.
No amount was too small, and this made most people give whatever they could. From both far and near, donations came in for the Australian fires combat.
The public’s support in the form of donations helped rescue workers get more medical and food supplies, shelter items, and more. More so, the funds helped firefighting organizations lease instruments to combat the fire.
Even after the bush fires, the donations are being used to provide for the animals and rejuvenate their habitats. Also, the animals are being sheltered for reintroduction into their natural habitats later.
The Aftermath Of The Australian Bush Fires
Fire devastation like the one that happened in Australia are known to result in the loss of both human and animal lives. Aside from that, they destroy properties, animal habitats, animal food sources, and cause the loss of human livelihood. The bush fires can cause numerous animals to go extinct.
In fact, because of the devastation, some animals have been declared endangered species. Also, there has been a significant reduction in the population of animals.
To help the animals live, they must first be taken to a shelter. They can return to their habitat after it’s been rejuvenated.
The burnt land also has a devastating impact on climate change and global warming. This is because burnt forests mean there will be a reduction in trees taking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen into the environment. The drought season has also grown more extended than usual.
Now, it’s getting more challenging for small animals to hide from predators due to the absence of tree covers. The high temperatures mean native bats will either adapt or die. Orphaned infant animals that are not used to early plucking from their mothers/families are in danger of becoming prey to bigger animals.
In the past, animals and forests have tried to adapt to the Australian fires. Plants, trees, and animals either had to cope with or resist it. However, the frequent occurrences of wildfires are threatening to disrupt things. Surviving animals need to move on with their lives, but the bush fire devastation is limiting that.
How will the animals resist predators when they can’t hide from them or run faster than them? Now that their food sources have been destroyed and their water holes dried, how will they survive?
Besides, their potential mates weren’t as lucky to make it out of the fire zones. So, how will the animals procreate? Since their young ones didn’t make it alive, how will they continue their species? These and many other questions continue to plague discussions around the Australian bushfires.
Conservation, care, and protection organizations are developing early warning systems to notify of possible fire outbreaks. Fire management strategies are being created and innovated to help protect the environment.
Also, stakeholders are launching public awareness campaigns on the prevention of bush fires and the results of bush fires.
More than ever, the government is now seeing the need to set up a firefighting department as a professional set up instead of a volunteering option. More firefighting technological devices are being put in place to combat future bush fires.
There’s no doubt that the wildfires devastated Australian wildlife and disrupted their ways of life, but surely Australia will rise again. The assistance from volunteers, animals, foreigners, and the likes have shown that humanity still exists. Thanks to the rescue missions and donations, Australian wildlife will live on. The animals say thank you for another chance at life. Mother Earth is even more thankful.