Unnatural disaster


I WILL SAY this simple thing, all wildlife in Australia is in crisis because of the severe impacts of climate change being experienced across the Australian continent, the situation will continue to deteriorate for a long time to come.

This article is an extract from a blog post by
Peter Hylands, Creative Cowboy.

Follow THIS LINK to view the complete story along with video and imagery.
All rights reserved Peter Hylands.

That is why Australia’s wonderful wildlife now needs your help more than ever before. It is estimated that the Australian bushfires so far this year have added an additional 2 percent to global greenhouse emissions and will add as much as one billion tons by the end of the fire season, the end result will be significantly more than the United Kingdom will emit for 2020.

“Everything is a bit out of control again here, wind like I have never experienced before. Gary was on the roof of the shed trying to strap it down as it was going to lift off, the wind was so strong it was lifting him with the roof. It was absolutely terrifying. Bushfires all around again, we are ok but the roads are closed and we think a water bomber has gone down.” — Sara Tilling

We turn our attention once again to events at the Cobargo Wildlife Sanctuary in New South Wales. I am writing this on 25 January 2020, the message from Sara above is from two days ago. A C-130 water bomber did indeed go down killing three very brave American fire fighters. A tragedy built upon tragedy.

We joined Sara Tilling, Gary Henderson and Scott Medwell at the Cobargo Wildlife Sanctuary as the clear up began.

Scott travelled all the way from regional Victoria and stayed for a week to help Sara and Gary begin the daunting clear up.

I wanted to give everyone an update snapshot regarding what is happening to wildlife in the eastern states fire zones. We have to remember we are talking about a country size region that has been impacted by fire, some very severely.

Regional rescues are occurring, as are food drops to wildlife in some areas. Local groups of rescuers are joined by major animal organisations such as Animals Australia and Wires volunteers in New South Wales.

In Victoria, Wildlife Victoria is also engaged in animal rescue but Victoria and New South Wales have closed many areas where wildlife will require assistance. So in many places wildlife rescuers are waiting to enter the firegrounds and it may be just too late for many animals. I understand the problems but this issue needs a rethink. Not good enough by far.

Wires say this on their website in relation to New South Wales.

“WIRES volunteers are on standby to enter fire grounds once the RFS and National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS) declare an area safe to access, however this can take up to three weeks after a fire has passed through.”

In addition to these problems numerous wildlife shelters and places where wildlife is cared for and rehabilitated, like Cobargo Wildlife Sanctuary, have been destroyed, and need to be rebuilt.

In Victoria the Victorian Government has just announced a $17.5 million package, aimed at giving endangered plants and animals the best chance of survival through “habitat restoration, predator and pest control and immediate salvage operations”.

The Australian Commonwealth Government had previously announced its $50 million emergency wildlife and habitat recovery fund saying that half of the fund would go to frontline responder groups including wildlife carers, hospitals and zoos including Zoos Victoria, Adelaide Zoo and Taronga Zoo (NSW). The balance would help fund a government advisory panel led by Dr Sally Box, the newly appointed Threatened Species Commissioner.

We were in Canberra when the $50 million fund was announced and politicians were talking about predator control. My comment on both these funds is this, while the funds should be applauded, this is new territory for these wildlife unfriendly governments and given the scale of the disaster and the size of the funds announced to date, which are small in relation to what has occurred, there needs to be a strict set of governance standards applied to the funds distribution and use. We particularly need to be clear on what predator control means, what species are they targeting, where and by which methods. The New South Wales Government, also talking about predator control, appears immune to the catastrophic plight of its wildlife (climate change and super fires), saying there will be no changes to killing of wildlife under a range of mechanisms, including the commercial trade in wildlife.

“Every single animal left must be given every single chance.” — Sara Tilling

All wildlife in these fires zones need help, not just threatened species. Populations of all species will be seriously impacted. As of 7 January 2020 the Victorian fires had already entirely severely burnt 34 of the state’s 104 major parks, 31 percent of the state’s rainforests, 24 percent of wet or damp forests and 34 percent of lowland forests had been burnt. In all this carnage, at least 185 Victorian species, many rare and threatened, have been affected by the fires, including 19 mammal species, 13 frog species, 10 reptile species, 9 bird species, 29 aquatic species and 38 plant species. With all this going on my view is that Parks Victoria were still culling native wildlife in the state and national parks where fires had not made their devastating impact. I have asked the Victorian Government a series of questions which they have refused to answer, for what I expect are obvious reasons. Freedom of information requests are being filed in relation to these matters.


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