Devastating bushfires are tearing through South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia, and animals are being hit particularly hard.
More than 26 homes have already been destroyed and at least 29 people have already been injured or hospitalised in the Adelaide Hills, as temperatures hit the high 30s and hundreds of firefighters race to contain the out-of-control blaze.
The ABC reports that fauna rescue teams are expecting a low survival rate among animals in the fire zone, even compared to bushfires in past years.
“Because of the intensity of the fire, it has caused a lot of destruction so most of the animals haven’t been able to survive,” said Bev Langley from the Minton Farm Animal Rescue Centre.
“We’ve had possums coming in with various injuries. Mostly singed feet, damaged tails, eye problems.”
A large number of dogs and cats died in a fire that swept through the Tea Tree Gully Boarding Kennels and Cattery, although firefighters managed to save more than 40 dogs.
“We love all the animals we have in our care and are devastated by this,” a post on Tea Tree Gully’s Facebook page read. “Our deepest sympathy to all who have suffered a loss.
“We have lost a home, business and pets we love and feel so awful about the loss of people’s beloved pets.”
The surviving dogs have been relocated to veterinary surgeries in the area.
Animal shelters across Adelaide are being used as drop-off points for dogs and cats while horses have been relocated around the city. Some owners have painted phone numbers on their horses’ backs and hoofs to help identify them once the fires abate.
Photos and videos have been posted to social media of animals being offered a helping hand by caring humans.
Colin Phil Cook posted a video of a parched koala on January 2. He could immediately tell the animal wasn’t “getting enough moisture from the drying gum leaves”.
“I came across this little chap in a distressed state, so I offered a helping hand from my water bottle, and he drank eagerly without hesitation,” Cook wrote in the video’s description. “No idea if it survived, but when they get this thirsty, there is a good chance that kidney damage has set in already… but one can only hope.”
— Richard Egan (@docegan) January 3, 2015
— Bianca De Marchi (@bianca_demarchi) January 3, 2015
— Edward Godfrey (@EdwardGodfrey9) January 4, 2015
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— news.com.au (@newscomauHQ) January 5, 2015
— Karina Natt (@Karina_Natt) January 2, 2015
Information on the treatment of animals and the donation of feed can be found on the official bushfire recovery page.