Search-rescue mission for animals on fire-ravaged Aus island

Search-rescue mission for animals on fire-ravaged Aus island

Adelaide, Jan 13 : A disaster response team has been deployed to South Australia's bushfire-ravaged Kangaroo Island on Monday to begin a search and rescue mission for thousands of animals caught in the blaze.

As well as rescuing wildlife suffering from burns, injuries, smoke inhalation and other trauma, the team formed by the animal charity Humane Society International, will also build water and food stations to sustain the uninjured animals, reports Xinhua news agency.

But according to Humane Society International senior specialist in disaster response, Kelly Donithan, conditions on the ground wereextremely harrowing.

"These are some of the toughest scenes I've ever witnessed as an animal rescuer. The bodies of charred animals as far as the eye can see," she said.

"However, as we set out each day on search and rescue, we're still finding animals alive, injured, dazed or traumatized, and it's such a relief to be able to give them immediate life-saving assistance.

"We've seen kangaroos with devastating burn injuries and dehydrated koalas gasping for water. Amidst all this death, every time we find an animal alive it feels like a miracle," Donithan added.

Home to the Flinders Chase National Park and a number of wildlife reserves, before the bushfires began this season there were estimated to be about 50,000 koalas on Kangaroo Island.

But with 215,000 hectares of vegetation or half the island now scorched, experts fear that around 30,000 koalas might have died, along with 32,000 livestock.

Despite the grim reality facing rescuers however, Donithan said the team was determined to help any animals that may still be alive.

The raging fires that began last September have also killed 28 people and burnt thousands of houses.

After several days high temperatures, cooler weather been forecast for the coming week, which could give a much-needed respite and an opportunity to firefighters to contain the blazes in different parts of the country.


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Search-rescue mission for animals on fire-ravaged Aus island