Victims still healing from Victorian bushfire injuries

A wallaby with burned feet was one of two that were recently released back to the wild. Photo: © WALA

On 19 December 2015, a man-lit bushfire that was started in Scotsburn, near Ballarat in Victoria, burned close to 5,000 hectares. Thousands of animals including pets, livestock and wildlife perished or were seriously wounded.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare worked with vet Elaine Ong and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) to rescue injured wildlife. Many survivors were placed with WALA Animal Sanctuary, located in Ballarat.  The animals affected by the fire have been receiving ongoing care and rehabilitation, supported by an IFAW emergency grant. 

Three months on, the injured animals are finally healing. Clarry the Koala suffered the effects of smoke inhalation and heat from the Scotsburn fire, but is continuing to recover in preparation for release into the wild.

Clarry the Koala recovering from fire. Photo: © WALA

The majority of WALA’s inhabitants are kangaroos and wallabies who suffered burns to their hands and feet. WALA is thrilled to report the recent release of two adult wallabies, who were admitted with severe radiant heat burns to their hands and feet. “It was so satisfying to return them to where they belonged”said Karen Pohlner, founder of WALA.

Despite aiming to treat, rehabilitate and release animals as quickly as possible, the severity of their injuries, as a result of the bushfire, means a lengthy healing period. Subsequently, the sanctuary requires support long after the fire is put out.

It is easy for people to forget that once the bushfire has been controlled and the media turns their attention to another story, many of our patients are with us for months and we still need support”said Pohlner.

WALA continues to care for an array of animals, including native birds, kangaroos, wallabies, koalas and possums.  The IFAW grant allowed WALA to build more enclosures to accommodate the influx of victims from the Scotsburn fire and more recently, the Mount Bolton, Addington and Sommerville fires.  Your support also allowed WALA to buy more feed and medical supplies.

All of this was only possible due to the kind donations from you, our supporters, so we’d like to extend a big “thank you”.


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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
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