Australia Flooding Response: Weekend Update
SUNDAY 23 JANUARY 2011
Started our day at driving back to Oakey to Wildlife’s Welfare Carers were there were several animals to treat. We began with a Bearded Dragon which came from Condamine which is an area which flooded 2 or 3 times recently. Some people had found the Bearded Dragon after the floods and kept him for about a week or so. But then noticed that it was not doing well so they called Wildlife Welfare Carers. It turns out that the reason it wasn't doing so well is because it has a fractured jaw! The poor lizard was extremely dehydrated and very thin, but Dr. Ralph was soon able to help him and with good care, he will heal and be able to be released back into the wild.
Next up was Tara, the Koala. (Named after a Tibetan deity for long life in the hope that she has a long life!) Tara was found sitting on the roadside and did not attempt to get away when she was picked up. She has an injury to her right wrist, is suffering from malnutrition, and seems to not see very well. But she is a dear old thing (yes, she is old which we can tell from her teeth).
We then looked at a female Kookaburra, one of the most familiar birds of the Australian bush. She was found in someone's front yard. Wildlife’s Welfare Carers has been looking after her. Dr Ralph examined the bird and her tail feathers are broken, but the prognosis is good. The broken feathers will be removed under a general anesthetic (as pulling out birds feathers is very painful, like having someone pull out your fingernails) Fortunately, they will grow back very quickly following the procedure.
We also checked two little baby Blue Tongue Lizards, a Rainbow Lorikeet with fractures, which will recover with rest and physiotherapy and a hen with a huge infected ulcer just under her eye and a lovely little kangaroo joey.
We then traveled with Tara the koala sleeping in a cage in the back, to Wildlife Rescue, Rehabilitation, and Conservation Association at Murphy's Creek again where Tara will remain for some time. Driving to this area today on a different road in daylight we could see the total devastation. You could clearly visualize the power of the water rushing violently down Murphys Creek. We heard of how when it happened, people saw chickens, wildlife, horses, all sorts of animals being washed down. Terrible.
We also had a call about a Koala coming from Dalby, an area to the west. Dr. Ralph examined him. He’s an old boy and is suffering from bad conjunctivitis and probably Chlamydia - a disease which often hits koalas. Fortunately his lungs sound clear and his general condition is ok. His condition could have come about from the stress of the last 2 weeks because of the floods.
SATURDAY 22 JANUARY, 2011
This morning started with a call to pick up a freshwater turtle from the University at Gatton. It seems the turtle belonged to a man whose wife perished in the floods. So we took him in to pass to a carer from Wildlife’s Welfare Carers to look after.
We then headed to Murphy's Creek, one of the worst affected areas. We drove over a bridge where the guard rails had been badly damaged and some ripped off. We pulled over briefly to have a look at the river when we spotted a little scruffy dog peering out from amongst some bushes at us. We wondered whether he was a stray as he looked a little dirty but after determining that we were nothing interesting, he trotted off knowingly towards a house nearby.
We drove on to Murphys Creek passing people helping their neighbours clear the debris and mud from their homes. Murphys Creek is still closed to the general public but we were allowed through. We stopped at the volunteer centre to ask directions and find out if there were any animals in need of assistance in the area. They were in need of ahorse float to transport 2 horses to some temporary paddocks. We were able to give them the contact details of someone who had wanted to help us and who had a horse float.
We then headed to the Wildlife Rescue, Rehabilitation, and Conservation Association where they had a number of animals waiting for us and where we were delivering the baby Barn Owl from Wildlife's Welfare Carers. Trish Lee Hong, the carer who operates Wildlife Rescue, Rehabilitation, and Conservation Association has been rescuing and caring for wildlife for 25 years and has a range of species in her care from raptors and lizards to wallabies and echidnas. Being high up, she never expected to be flooded. But the waters came rushing down the mountainside with such speed and ferocity that in no time the water was waist high. She managed to rescue most of her animals and get them in the house, but unfortunately, some perished in the water. Some of her enclosures were also damaged or destroyed.
Today she had waiting for us various species including 2 Wedgetailed Eagles (head injuries, one is suffering from starvation), a Kite, a Kestrel, 2 Possums (with staph or strep), an Echidna found submerged under water but head out, a tiny insectivorous bat which was found floating on the water, and a peacock chick (problems with his tiny legs so Howard put them in a splint). She also had several more flood victims who had arrived earlier including 5 Long-nosed Bandicoot joeys who she rescued from their dead mothers pouch, a Barn Owl with head trauma, several birds of prey, and a couple of wallaby joeys who were washed up in the floods and I had the good fortune to help with them by giving them their bottles and inducing them to go to the toilet. But I had the not so good fortune of having the feeling of bird lice crawling all over me after having helped with the Wedgetailed Eagles.
One of the difficulties for Howard has been operating in poor light, although he can manage. I usually hold a torch for him. Still can be quite tricky like last night trying to get this Echidna to stop curling up so Howard could listen to his heart etc. Took 3 of us and then we needed Jerry the photographer to hold the torch for a bit.
Driving home at night, again involved dodging many little frogs and up here, quite a few Cane Toads. We stopped to move a large Green Tree Frog off the road at one point (it jumped up Howard's leg instead at first!)
Tomorrow morning we will take the freshwater turtle to a carer near Oakey, then go to Sonya's to treat the koala...
For more information on IFAW efforts to save animals in crisis around the world visit http://www.ifaw.org