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[SYDNEY, Australia, January 08, 2020] – Today, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) deployed a disaster response team to Australia to carry out intensive animal relief efforts in the wake of the massive bushfires raging across the continent, devastating local communities and wildlife, while forcing thousands of people to evacuate. As the bushfires have escalated in both scale and intensity, IFAW is increasing its efforts on-the-ground to provide much-needed assistance. Since the first fires in Queensland in September 2019, IFAW’s Australia team has worked with local partners in both Queensland and New South Wales, expanding to South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania as the fires spread to other regions.
The bushfires have decimated native wildlife populations – with an estimated one billion animals — not including livestock — having been killed to date in New South Wales alone. The loss of life is not only devastating in magnitude, but puts already-endangered species at an even greater risk of extinction. One example includes the iconic koala, whose population has suffered an estimated 8,000 deaths from the bushfires in New South Wales, thought to represent over one quarter of the total koala population. IFAW’s local Australian team has provided resources and support for the past three months alongside its extensive network of local partners on the ground. This has included assisting with the provision of veterinary care and expertise, medical supplies, animal transport, provision of emergency enclosures, food and water, and fire-safety training, as well as equipment for search and rescue efforts. Support has also been given through ‘alternative’ means which includes leveraging the incredible skills of six-year old rescue dog Bear, IFAW’s renowned koala detection dog, actively deployed and trained to detect live koalas through the scent of their fur.
As the situation continues to unfold, IFAW’s team will continue to work with government agencies, wildlife rescue groups, and other first responders including human welfare charities and humanitarian partners, to address those areas of greatest need and to respond accordingly to the threats facing the nation’s wildlife.
Further updates from the field will be delivered over the upcoming days.
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