Relief agencies are rushing to the aid of wounded slow moving animals after fierce wildfires tore through parts of Australia. One animal relief outfit wants the public to donate mittens to help burned koalas recover.
“These injuries need treatment with burns cream and paws need to be protected with special cotton mittens,” the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) said in a statement.
It is calling for the public to make and donate such gloves to help the injured.
The IFAW added that most of an area of prime koala habitat has been destroyed by fire at Pottsville on the Tweed Coast in New South Wales, with four koalas reported rescued from the area.
Other areas badly hit by fire include parts of South Australia and Victoria.
“Many koalas perish in bushfires, while the lucky ones that survive are often badly injured and need intensive treatment by vets and dedicated wildlife carers.”
Aaron Machado, the president of the Australian Marine Wildlife Research & Rescue Organization (AMWRRO), told The Anadolu Agency on Saturday that "approximately 15 koalas have been removed from the fire grounds so far, many kangaroos and other native animals also."
Among the animals affected was a young male koala named Jeremy - "the first bushfire victim to pass through the AMWRRO Wildlife Clinic."
"Jeremy has been assessed and all four paws treated for second-degree partial thickness burns, he is doing very well and is in great spirits."
IFAW said that it expects more koalas to come into the care of wildlife groups as the fire grounds are opened up by rescuers searching for injured animals.
“Already koalas have come into care in Victoria and in South Australia firefighters and members of the public are reported to have helped displaced and exhausted koalas by providing water and a respite from the heat.”
The IFAW said that injured koalas - such as Jeremy - typically come in with severe burns, especially on their paws, caused by contact with burning trees or from fleeing across fire grounds.
"On a normal day, they spend around 18 hours asleep in the fork of a tree and even when fully awake, they are slow-moving creatures with a top speed of around 10 kilometers an hour."
In a fast moving fire, they are often the first to perish.
"Injuries to paws, claws, face and ears are common and tiny joeys [baby koala] can often only wait in burning trees, crying for their mothers."
Josey Sharrad, a campaigner for IFAW Australia, said that she had worked with wildlife rescuers after fires "and they tell me about seeing koala babies actually sitting in the trees crying."
She added that a plentiful supply of mittens is needed throughout the bushfire season.
“Just like any burns victim, koalas’ [koali] dressings need changing daily, meaning a constant supply of mittens is needed by wildlife carers. Some burned koalas [koali] can take up to a year to fully recover,” she added.
Koala mittens pattern - http://www.ifaw.org/sites/default/files/default/KOALA-MITTENS-PATTERN-A4.pdf
Donations – not mittens – can also be sent to - http://www.amwrro.org.au/
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