Heatherbrae wildfire search and rescue, animal recovery will be long-term

IFAW vet Don Hudson carefully examines a burned koala, Richardson Jane, found a week ago on Richardson Road,Day three of the search and rescue of the Heatherbrae fire - we woke to smoke-filled air and headed out to survey the fire-grounds.

Driving through the hazy morning sun we spotted a huge Eastern Grey kangaroo, burned and moving as if in slow motion through the charred bush in search of food and water.

We left a bowl of water out for him, and when we returned half an hour later he had drunk it.

We searched for him to take a closer look at his injuries, but we couldn’t find him. It was shocking how little wildlife seemed to have survived.

SEE ALSO: Joining with the NSW Salt Ash fire wildlife search and rescue team

This afternoon, I paid a visit to a rescued koala, Richardson Jane, found a week ago on Richardson Road, climbing high in the trees like Tarzan’s Jane. She was crying, her fur scorched and her nose and chin badly burnt.

She was treated by the wonderful  Noah’s Ark vets who IFAW is assisting with medical supplies. Her claws were  x-rayed as these are essential to koalas’ long-term survival in the wild as they can’t climb without them.

She is now in the caring hands of Sue Swain of Hunter Koala Preservation Society who is nursing her back to health.

Don Hudson, IFAW Award Winning koala vet came to check on her and was pleased with her progress. Burns cream was applied to her badly burned paws and nose.

Local volunteers have been making cotton mittens to put on the burned koala’s paws to keep them moist. She was then sedated and put on a drip to rehydrate her. When she was found she was severely dehydrated but a week later she is fully rehydrated and has put on weight. She is also slowly losing the smell of fire-smoke.

But her recovery will be long-term – estimated at up to a year before she is fully fit to be released back into the wild.

It is also costly – burns cream, bandages, dressings and rehydration fluid are needed to treat these animals.

IFAW has been helping out with medical supplies to assist the dedicated carers who do such an amazing job of looking after our vulnerable wildlife.

They truly are unsung heroes.


Your donation helps provided the needed carers and supplies for animal victims like these. 

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Senior Program Advisor
Senior Program Advisor
Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
IFAW Veterinarian
Gail A'Brunzo, Manager, Wildlife Rescue
Manager, Wildlife Rescue
Veterinarian, DVM, PhD
Veterinarian, DVM, PhD
Katie Moore, Deputy Vice President, Conservation and Animal Welfare
Deputy Vice President, Conservation and Animal Welfare
Loïs Lelanchon, Animal Rescue Program Officer
Animal Rescue Program Officer
Shannon Walajtys
Manager, Animal Rescue-Disasters
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy