The aftermath of the Sampson Flat bushfires

The Sampson Flat bushfire destroyed 27 homes and scorched more than 12,500ha before it was declared contained last Thursday. The fire has also had a serious impact on natural resources in the northern area of the Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges region and biodiversity experts are visiting the region to assess the damage and make recommendations.

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Source: SA Country Fire Service

While the fires were raging many offered accommodation for affected people and animals, donated feed, rugs and equipment to affected property owners and helped rescue horses. In the past week, 1,356 people have registered to help with the bushfire recovery effort. This includes helping affected families and communities, managing livestock, repairing fencing, dealing with insurance companies, removing fallen trees and gardening.

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A fire fighter helping a baby koala during the fire – source: ABC news

In ‘Coping with extreme heat’ I acknowledged the impact of extreme weather events on people’s physical and mental health and some of the issues faced by individuals and communities. But human beings are not the only species affected by such events.

Vets and welfare teams are now visiting properties in the Adelaide Hills and treating or destroying fire-affected livestock while fire-fighters and RSPCA workers are doing the best they can to help the wildlife that survived the fierce blaze. While some wildlife managed to survive the fire, many animals have been badly burnt and left in need of food and water and animal welfare teams are expecting a low survival rate because of its intensity.

burnt koala

Photo: IFAW

While many koalas perish in bushfires the ones that survive are often badly injured with severe burns, especially on their paws, caused by contact with burning trees or from fleeing across fire grounds.  The International Fund for Animal welfare (IFAW) received a generous worldwide response to their call for  koala mittens. These are used to protect paws treated with burns cream.

pouches

Photo: IFAW

Many other Australian native wildlife like possums, kangaroos and wallabies are also at risk or orphaned as a result of fires. Joeys need to be kept warm and quiet in a ‘pouch’ like environment. Sewn pouches are used by carers and plenty of these are still needed. For people in Australia, the fund has very simple instructions on how to sew pouch liners here.

The pouches can be sent to: IFAW at 6 Belmore Street, Surry Hills 2010. Due to the high cost of shipping internationally, they are asking people outside of Australia who still want to help to consider donating to IFAW or signing up for emails so they can be alerted of opportunities to help animals in the future.

“Our fire prone continent is experiencing more frequent and more intense bushfire activity… It’s always preferable to prevent a fire from occurring rather than fight it.”

“Prevention in the 21st century means more than smoke alarms and back-burning. It means international action on climate change.”

Jim Casey – State secretary, NSW Fire Brigade Employees’ Union.

Further reading/ information:

Firefighting has hardly changed in a century. But bushfires certainly have | Jim Casey

Animal welfare teams enter Adelaide Hills fire zone

Adelaide Hills bushfire: How disaster struck on Adelaide’s doorstep

Sampson Flat bushfire recovery – Natural Resources South …

volunteeringsa.org.au

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