Tracy Burgess is a volunteer with the Center for Wildlife Information, Education and Education in Australia – one of the units that has contributed a lot of efforts to rescue wildlife from modern wildfire disaster is happening. And recently, she appeared on the program As It Happens to tell about her experiences when participating in rescuing wild animals.
Statistics show that about half a billion wildlife have been killed by wildfires, and this figure is really … heartbreaking. As the person directly seeing the fires, what do you think about the statistics that have been given?
That’s a very sad number, and the fact is that we don’t get very many wild animals injured – many animals have been burned to death by wildfires. I heard a few stories from the fire department of New South Wales, and they said that they saw hundreds of Wallaby kangaroos seen among the fires.
Besides Wallaby kangaroos, what other species have become victims of wildfire?
Among the wildlife species heavily affected by wild fires are ferrets possum, echidna, koalas, koala, as well as many other birds. In addition to being burned, many animals die from asphyxiation as well as being unable to withstand the high temperatures in the area around the fires.
Can you recount your wildlife rescue experience from wildfire?
The day before, I had saved a wombat wombat from the wildfire area, with the help of the fire department. They accompanied me to ensure my safety during the rescue process. At that time, fire engines were everywhere, smoke was dark, and I just wanted to save that poor koalas as quickly as possible.
As for the koalas, luckily it didn’t burn or burn, but it was also injured by falling on a tree.
What about the rescued animals?
We will take them home to take care and treat the wounds, then return them to their natural state after recovering. They are all wild animals, so they need to return to their natural habitat as soon as possible.
However, the current situation of forest fires makes this very difficult. We cannot return them to burning forests. But the longer they take care of wildlife, the harder it will be to return them back to the wild, because their instincts are lessened.
So how do wild animals react?
A possum weasel got seriously burned, but remained on a burnt tree for three days. Nobody came to save him, because all thought he was dead. But on the fourth day, he climbed down and came to the door of a house in Clarence.
In my experience, many animals who know they are in danger will turn to humans. I don’t know why either, but it seems that their survival instincts tell them that they should look to humans for salvation.
So, I think this weasel girl knows that I’m trying to treat him, so even if he doesn’t like it, he doesn’t overreact like scratching or biting me during treatment. This is different from the fierce reaction of a weasel possum when injured.
Normally, we will note that people minimize feeding to wildlife because they do not want them to become too used to rely on humans but forget the ability to forage. However, the current conditions do not allow us to, so we have some families living near burnt forests to save some food for wildlife.
So, how would you rate the risk that wildlife would face if such fires continued in the future?
Basically, forests will be reborn after fires, but we are also very worried. Because, the ecosystem always takes place the process of self-balance between plants and animals. However, this fire has killed so many wildlife, so much so that we do not know if the natural ecosystem here can be balanced as before. Australia is a country famous for its diverse wildlife, but after this forest fire disaster, it’s hard to know what the future will be like.
According to cbc