It's hard to believe it's been six months since the bushfires really started to impact our wildlife, first in Queensland and far north NSW, then gradually moving all the way down the coast. They lasted for so long that we forgot what life was like without heartbreaking stories on the nightly news, and smoke haze in the air. We rescued animals suffering from burns, smoke inhalation, corneal ulcers and injuries suffered as they fled the fires, and did our best to treat their wounds. In January we got hit with multiple heat stress events, leaving dead bats on the ground in their thousands, and countless orphaned pups waiting for their mothers. During these months we were fortunate to have many generous supporters, both in Australia and other parts of the world, who were keen to do whatever they could to help. We received donations of money, as well as goods such as beautifully handmade pouches, bat wraps and bird nests, fabulous possum boxes, cage covers, humidicribs, cage linings and other weird and wonderful things needed to care for wildlife. Organisations donated milk formula for baby animals, macropod pellets, and boxes of fruit. Medical centres provided us with syringes, needles, fluid bags, bandages and other supplies to be used on the front line. These donations are now helping us to pick up the pieces from the summer from hell, and repair the damage, while still mourning the countless animal lives that were lost.
So far we've spent your money to do repair work at our:
- rehab facility (replaced collapsing roof, repaired risky electrical wiring, bought microchip readers, repaired our very large flight aviary);
- on our mobile wildlife care unit (an x-ray machine, a laptop, other instruments and equipment, fuel bills and road tolls);
- on our bat facility (a second-hand coolroom to prevent food wastage, which has been on our wish-list for years;
- protective gauntlets for our members;
- two new aviaries in members' homes to cope with the increased number of animals coming into care);
- and on the ever increasing food, shelter, vet and medicine costs.
Some of our members living in the southern Sydney fire zone lost their aviaries and animal enclosures, but were extremely fortunate not to lose their homes or any animals. We'll use donated funds to re-build their facilities bigger and better than before. We'll direct funds towards developing online training courses, so that we'll be able to train more new members and offer advanced training to existing members. The safety of our members is, of course, extremely important to us, so we'll spend money on personal protective equipment (PPE) and other safety items such as tubes for snake handling. We'll make sure that every member has a high-viz vest.
We were fortunate that our mobile wildlife care unit was nearly good to go when the fires hit. Our members, accompanied by a wonderful group of volunteer vets, took it on several forays into the firezones, where it truly proved its worth. We've now bought a whopping big carport to protect it from the elements and keep it secure. It took three long years to raise the funds to buy this van - we want to make sure it has a long and useful future ahead of it.
Donated funds were also put towards our substantial darting expenses. On eight separate trips, our experienced darter went into the fire grounds as a representative of Sydney Wildlife Rescue, where she darted more than 50 injured kangaroos and wallabies. Each pack of needles and darts costs around $300, and that doesn't include the sedative medication. This costs at least $50 a bottle, and one big kangaroo might need the whole bottle.
Once Corona is under control, we'll be in a position to send you an update on "How We're Spending Your Money". In the meantime, thank you again. The generosity we've been shown by school children, families, councils, government organisations and corporations has been truly wonderful - we couldn't have got by without you!
Sydney Wildlife Rescue