4 February 2020
As a result of unprecedented weather conditions resulting in drought, fire and floods the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital (AZWH) continues to see a worrying increase in patient numbers.
Typically during Trauma Season, from September to February, the AZWH sees a significant spike in sick, injured and orphaned native animals as they are on the move during the breeding season and are hit by cars, attacked by domestic pets or impacted by disease.
But this year, the number of animals requiring treatment has been infinitely worse because of the prolonged drought which has meant breeding season has occurred during a food and water shortage and the recent fires have further exacerbated already vulnerable wildlife.
One of the worst affected animals, who play a vital role in pollinating native plants, is the flying fox. Hundreds of severely malnourished orphaned flying foxes have been transported from fire ravaged parts of New South Wales to Queensland where they can receive life-saving treatment.
Dr Rosie Booth, Director of the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital said that in order to care for the influx of young flying foxes we are upgrading our rehabilitation facility to cater for 350 orphaned grey headed flying foxes.
“We are going to repurpose an existing facility so that it can be a crèche for flying foxes and then commence work to build a specially designed flying fox facility that can help us to offer further care to these important animals.”
Flying foxes feed on the nectar and pollen of native blossoms and fruits and are instrumental in the conservation of our environment as they spread seeds and pollinate native plants.
“Many people don’t realise that flying foxes are actually critical to our own survival because they pollinate many of the plants that humans and other animals depend on,” Dr Rosie said.
“Millions of acres of land has been decimated by the recent fires and it is vital that we all do what we can to regenerate the impacted areas so that the animals we can save have somewhere to live and can have a future.”
The scary truth is that we may never know the full extent that the drought and these fires have had on our wildlife for many decades to come, and some species may never recover.
“We may need reclassification of a number of species following the catastrophic bushfires; the grey headed flying foxes and koalas are in a lot more trouble now than they ever have been before and their survival will be much more conservation dependent,” Dr Rosie said.
It is important for us to all do our part to ensure we can live harmoniously alongside our precious wildlife. Everyone can help wildlife in their backyards by putting out compost scraps, a shallow container of water, and shelter areas this bushfire season. We can all keep our pets inside at night, plant native trees and bushes, drive carefully during dawn and dusk, and call 1300 ANIMAL if we see wildlife in need.
Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is Australia’s busiest wildlife hospital.
For more ways to help native Australian wildlife in this time of need, visit wildlifewarriors.org.au.
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