keep our wildlife safe from the fires

UPDATED 12/12/2019 - DAY 25

The Three Mile mega-fire still burns near our sanctuary
. Our animals are offsite in temporary care away from the fires and the smoke. Some have been away from home for 3 weeks. They are safe and getting the best of care, but it is hard for them and we're seeing their stress. We have so much work to do to make their home safe so they don't have to be evacuated every time there is fire in the area. And they need us to bring them home. 

WHAT’S GOING ON:

One of Sydney’s megafires is burning only 6km from our boundary. In mid November it was 25km away. We have hundreds of animals in care plus thousands of wild wildlife living in our 180 acre bush sanctuary. When we realised the fire could get here in less than 2 days, we started evacuating our animals. We didn’t know when or even if it would reach us, but there was no time to wait and see. If we did and the fire got here, it would be too late. We found safe temporary homes for every one of our animals plus any wild wildlife that we could catch. The local community arrived to help. Volunteers have helped us to move all of our animals to safety; to catch up and save wild wildlife every night, to gather fire fighting equipment, and to put together a team of community fire fighters to defend the sanctuary so the animals have a home to come back to and we can protect the wild wildlife that lives in the bush. We have days when, because of the extreme weather, the fire is ferocious and moving fast and only hours away. On other days it grows slowly and not in our direction. 

WHY WE NEED HELP:

We have had no income because we have no animals here so visitors don’t have a reason to visit us (visitor tickets are our ONLY source of income). 

Local community is helping, but evacuating and looking after animals off site and bringing them back safely and defending the property from fire is costing us a lot of money every day.

WHAT WE NEED YOU TO HELP US WITH:

Our community is helping us on the ground, but we’re struggling to pay for everything we need.

We have evacuated our animals. We need to look after them until we can bring them home. We’re moving wild wildlife out of danger. We need to protect the sanctuary while the fires are still threatening. We need to bring our animals home and settle them in. We need to find a way to reopen so that we can pay our own way again. And we need to make the sanctuary safer and more quickly evacuatable in case there is a next time. Our local community is on the ground helping us, but we need help to cover costs. 

AND THEN WHAT? Once we get through all of this, we will keep working with our local wildlife rescue organisations (they’re helping us with our animals right now). We need to use the sanctuary to help the wildlife now homeless after the fires. 

WHAT YOUR DONATION WILL BE SPENT ON:

Help us to make the sanctuary safe so we don't have to evacuate our animals every time there are bush fires in the area. Help us to bring our animals home safely. Help us to do what the animals need to make their home safe so we never have to put them through the stress of an emergency evacuation again. Our animals need to be safe at home and not be bushfire refugees. These are the types of costs we need to cover:

...BRINGING THE ANIMALS HOME...

...Medication for a stressed animal costs around $3 per dose. Around 60 animals needed medication to help them be relocated safely. Bringing them home will cost the same.

...A hessian bag and cable ties and swing hooks to make a pouch to relocate a kangaroo costs $9. They’re not always reusable. We used around 60 bags to move the kangaroos and wallabies out. We still need to bring them home.

...Fuel/gas costs us around $25 per 200km. We’ve already done around 3,000km. We expect to do another 5,000km before all the animals are home safe.

...Feed for the kangaroos and wallabies costs $63 per day. Feed for Tasmanian devils and dingoes and quolls costs $$20 per day. Plus we have to feed the 60 other species in our care. Although we buy food for our animals in normal circumstances, because of the fires we don’t have an income. 

...A transport box for an emu costs $250. We borrowed boxes to move them out and they weren’t strong enough. Although the emus are ok, to make sure they get home safely we need specially reinforced boxes. 

...MAKING THE ANIMALS' HOME BUSHFIRE-SAFE...

...$850 per pump for more fire pumps; $165 per hose for more fire hoses; 12,000 to $24,000 for a steel water tank, and we need lots of these; $6,500 for a second mobile water trailer; $15,000 for a small strong vehicle to pull our water tankers around our 180 acres; $18,000 for a eucalyptus plantation for koala feed and a sprinkler system; $20,000 for a water bore so our tanks can refill quickly; $22,000 for a full backup generator so we don’t lose power and communications in a fire; $30,000 to hire earth moving equipment to push fire breaks around the sanctuary.


HERE ARE THE DETAILS OF WHAT’S BEEN HAPPENING:

The Three Mile mega-fire is 6km from our sanctuary.

Our sanctuary is 180 acres of wild habitat and all the wild wildlife that lives in it. A mega-fire has been burning just across the ridge from us since mid November. It was 25km away then. Now it is only 6km from us. It was coming at us from the west, then it surged 15km north in one catastrophic afternoon. Now it burns both west and north of us. We don't know what this fire is going to do. Some days it grows slowly. In the second week on an ‘extreme weather day’ it surged 15km in one night. It has the potential to reach us in 2 days. Or it can take weeks. Or it might burn itself out before it gets here. It's impossible to know.

EVACUATING ANIMALS

If we waited until we knew for sure that the fire would reach us, it would be too late. With hundreds of dependent animals in our care, and thousands of wild animals living wild in our sanctuary, thousands more of Australia's precious animals would die. We had to be ready for the fire if it comes, ready to fight it if we can. We had to move animals out so we could know they were safe while we focused on the fire. There was no time to think about what it would cost, let alone to stop and ask for financial help. We put the word out to the world on Facebook asking for ‘boots on the ground’ to help. And we got it! With the help of our local community, we started to evacuate the animals. 

WE DESPERATELY NEED HELP

We need to cover the costs of moving our animals to safety, keeping the wild wildlife safe, making the sanctuary safer for the animals to return when the time comes, bringing them all safely home, all of this while the park is closed to the public and we have zero income. We’re not a big profitable organisation like a zoo, we don’t have money in the bank to buy and pay for what we need to save our animals and their home in the face of an unstoppable monster fire front. 

EVACUATING ANIMALS IN OUR CARE

We've moved around 300 animals to safety. We helicoptered out the wombats, and teams of wildlife rescuers have driven the others to safe places, where specialised carers for each species are giving them everything they need. 

First we moved our bottle fed orphaned joeys, as well as possums, endangered parma wallabies with joeys in the pouch, raptors and other hunting birds, gliders, bandicoots and flying foxes, and Waffles the Pig and his farmyard friends. At that stage the fires were more than 2 days from us, so we needed to move enough animals so that we could move all remaining animals in less than 2 days. 

Then the fire crossed to our side of the creek and 8 new lighting strike fires started around us. The fire could now reach us in less than 2 days. We had to get the other animals out of here. That afternoon we moved Tonka the wombat (his friends were already out), Dexter and his parrot friends, snakes, lizards, turtles, frogs, echidnas, quolls, potoroos, and Cupcake the trapdoor spider. 

While this was going on, we built a safe zone and rigged it with water pumps and fire hoses to keep animals safe on site. We planned to not relocated animals that were likely to be injured or die if we relocated them. This included Happy Feet with his emu friends, the kangaroos and wallabies, and the wild wildlife. 

Then the fire changed direction so it was coming at us from the north, through farms and villages, and we realised that our fire-fighters would not be available to help us to keep the animals safe on site. We realised we couldn’t keep them safe if the fire arrived. We realised we had to move them too. We moved fast but carefully with experienced rescuers and vets on site to help. Thanks to our amazing team including community volunteers, all the animals were moved safely.. 

SAVING WILD WILDLIFE

Aside from the dependent animals in full time care, our bush sanctuary is home to every kind of wild animal native to Australia's east coast. Goannas, sugar gliders, possums, echidnas, snakes, lizards, bettongs, bandicoots, wombats, microbats, flying foxes, even ancient native bee hives.

We’ve been doing everything we can to save them. We’ve been tracking and catching wild wildlife day and night and placing them with experienced carers until it is safe for them to come home, and we’ve been clearing fuel and bringing in water and shelter to build safer zones for animals we can’t rescue.

PROTECTING WILD HABITAT

Every day we are working to make safer zones inside the sanctuary so the wild animals we can't catch will have a chance if the fire arrives. Teams of local volunteers have been working in the smoke and heat to be ready for the fire if it comes. They have helped us to set up fire-fighting equipment, water trailers, water tanks, hoses and pumps. Others raked away tons of dry leaf litter, creating safer zones in the bush for any wildlife that we can't relocate. 

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Rangers and volunteers off to catch more wallabies to keep them safe.
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One more saved, endangered parma wallaby mum and joey safe in the pouch.
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Raj and Khan the peacocks, safe.
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Flying wombats being choppered out.
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Rounding up kangaroos takes teamwork.
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More endangered parma wallabies, going home with carers to safety.
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Tired but happy. So much help! So much love!
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Night catching team looking happy - just caught up the last two Eastern Grey Kangaroos!
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A not so funny fire map - gotta laugh.
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Volunteers raking leaf litter creating a safe zone.
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Organizer

Tassin Barnard 
Organizer
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