“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,” Kelly Donithan from the animal charity Humane Society International (HSI) said.
“But as we set out each day on search and rescue, we’re still finding animals alive, injured, dazed or traumatized. 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,” she continued.
Like many other animal rights organizations, HSI has deployed a disaster response team to Kangaroo Island on a search and rescue mission for wildlife survivors of the Australian bushfires that have scorched over one-third of the island.
So far, more than one billion animals have died in the fires in Australia. High temperatures combined with months of severe droughts have caused massive bushfires across the country since September.
Donithan leads the team in Australia: “Sadly some animals are so badly burned that euthanasia is the only option. We found one kangaroo so burned her feet and tail were nothing but exposed bones. She was in a terrible state and must have endured such suffering, so I’m grateful at least that she didn’t have to die out there alone and in pain.”
HSI Australia CEO Erica Martin said: “At one area, which was badly burned a week ago, the scenes were nothing short of apocalyptic. There we only found one living koala amongst thousands of bodies of koalas, kangaroos, wallabies and birds.”
Despite the best efforts of firefighters, rescuers are seeing new fires continuing to spring up, with animals fleeing with burns. The HSI rescued a possum after he merged from the flames while they were waiting in the car at the site of the road.