Wildlife Rescue - AustraliaAustralia has one of the highest mammal extinction rates in the world
(17 January 2022) - Australian wildlife groups left scarred by the catastrophic 2019–20 bushfires are being given potentially life-saving training to help keep them safe in future disasters.
During and after the Black Summer bushfires, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) reached out to carers and wildlife groups and discovered many were inundated with injured wildlife and with often limited experience or tools to help them stay safe and evacuate if necessary.
“No one was prepared for bushfires of that intensity and ferocity. Evacuating with kangaroos or koalas isn’t like evacuating with a pet dog or cat. You can’t just put them in your car and drive away,” IFAW Animal Rescue Officer Nicole Rojas-Marin said.
“It forced many wildlife carers and groups to make impossible decisions—with many putting their own lives at risk to save animals in their care.”
IFAW realised how potentially life-saving it would be to create guidelines and workshops for wildlife carers to use before and during disasters. The organisation created a disaster toolkit—an online resource with guidelines and tools for animal carers and groups to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters.
A key part is an emergency evacuation planning workshop where IFAW provides wildlife groups with resources and templates to help them create their own evacuation plan.
“We hope through this, we empower and equip groups and carers with the knowledge and tools to ensure they are prepared to evacuate safely so they don’t become victims themselves during disasters,” Ms. Rojas-Marin said.
The first of these workshops was held for Friends of the Koala near Lismore in New South Wales. The koala care facility was inundated with injured koalas during the 2019–20 bushfire season and at one stage had a record 41 koalas in care.
“If the 2019–20 bushfire season taught us anything, it was the importance of preparedness. Thanks to support from IFAW, we have implemented emergency evacuation planning and upskilled our volunteers so they're as prepared as possible to enter more critical locations sooner after bushfires have come through and ultimately, save more lives,” said Friends of the Koala President Aliison Kelly.
IFAW is also working with community groups such as Hunter Wildlife Rescue to carry out training sessions that focus on how to respond to disasters and safely search for surviving animals.
“The Black Summer fires saw us all very unprepared, so networking and working together is very important. We are sharing our knowledge and skills to help find better outcomes in times of disaster and to ensure our wildlife have better support in times of need,” Hunter Wildlife Rescue President Audrey Koosmen said.
Photos available here.
The toolkit can be found here.
m: +61 460 432 901
About the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) - The International Fund for Animal Welfare is a global non-profit helping animal and people thrive together. We are experts and everyday people, working across seas, oceans and in more than 40 countries around the world. We rescue, rehabilitate and release animals, and we restore and protect their natural habitats. The problems we’re up against are urgent and complicated. To solve them, we match fresh thinking with bold action. We partner with local communities, governments, non-governmental organisations and businesses. Together, we pioneer new and innovative ways to help all species flourish. See how at ifaw.org