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Published On: 21 Jan 2020

How the fires and drought are continuing to impact our native wiLdlife

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The fire situation has been going on since September and has been intensifying month by month. The Currumbin Wildlife Hospital has admitted around 500 patients from in and around the fire zones and the impact on our wildlife has been truly tragic. It is important to remember it is not just the animals that have been burnt at the fire front or around the edges where there aren’t fires but the extreme drought and heat has meant many of our wildlife are starving and dehydrated out there. Those animals which have survived have nothing to eat now.

The Currumbin Wildlife Hospital has seen around a 20% increase in admissions and the hospital admitted over 12,000 patients in 2019. It’s a very busy place without the fires so the extra intake has put a lot of stress on our resources and it is a struggle to keep up. 
The burns that we’re seeing are predominantly on the hands but what we’re seeing in the areas the fires have gone through is if the fires haven’t burned the crowns of the trees, animals particularly like Ember have climbed to the top of the tree to escape the flames as they pass through. Once the fire has passed the Koalas climb down the tree and hold onto the burnt trunk and get serious burns on their feet and that’s what we’re seeing. These types of injuries require intense treatment and regular bandage changes for months to get them better. We’ve had good success rates and it’s about management, controlling infection and a lot of pain relief. 

The challenge and question now is when is the right time to release the wildlife - their habitat has been destroyed. We want to release them when we know and when we are confident they can survive out there. 

A new situation we are dealing with is native wildlife coming in starving and dehydrated. Many animals are coming in needing to be rehydrated and fed and still require weeks of hospitalisation to get them back to health. This is the worst fire and drought situation we have ever seen and the extreme extended weather is having a huge impact on wildlife.   

The Facts: 

  • 2019 was the busiest year on record at Currumbin Wildlife Hospital.  Our total admissions for 2019 were 12,198, compared to 11,082 the previous year.  This hospital is one of the busiest wildlife hospitals in the world and it’s located in our backyard.  Our mission remains the same: to treat, rehabilitate and release native wildlife.  
  • We were fortunate to receive a second wildlife ambulance this year, and it was certainly needed!  Our ambulances rescued over 1,500 animals and travelled over 70,000km!
  • Koala admissions have increased to 600 in 2019 up from 27 in 2008.
  • We are blessed to have an amazing team of volunteers at the wildlife hospital, and in 2019 over 24,000 volunteer hours were worked over 5,076 shifts. Thank you to all our dedicated helpers!
  • Our hospital received over 24,000 phone calls and spent 928 hours on the phone assisting members of the public, veterinary practices and wildlife carers with their wildlife enquiries.  
  • Nearly 500 additional admissions during recent bushfires, the increased admission of wildlife will continue to increase over the next 6-12 months as animals return to their devastated homes and seek food, limited shelter and try to remain healthy as they recover.

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