Floods in NSW have left animals stressed and injured, with wallabies being hit by cars, tortoises washed away, possums and birds trapped underwater and baby marsupials likely drowned, wildlife workers say.
WWF Australia’s Wildlife Recovery Project Coordinator and veterinarian, Prishani Vengetas, says conservation organizations are also anticipating an increase in animal diseases from contaminated water.
Sydney Wildlife Rescue, which is supported by WWF, has cared for a swamp wallaby joey who was orphaned when his mother was hit by a car in heavy rain, along with injured turtles, birds and possums.
Based on past flood experience, WWF expects an increase in disease in koalas due to stress on their immune systems, and snail parasites in birds and wallabies.
dr. Vengetas said the future of the country’s wildlife must be protected as rescue services work through advancing disasters.
“We are in a time of rapid climate change. We need to adjust our policies, how we conduct our daily lives,” she said.
“Our Earth is really suffering.”
Wild winds and rain have knocked down trees and damaged predator fences in Aussie Ark’s Barrington Tops Nature Reserve, a wildlife sanctuary where endangered species such as quolls and Tasmanian devils are safe from feral cats and foxes.
Aussie Ark’s Tyler Gralton said crews are running 12-hour shifts to find fallen trees on the 400-acre site and ensure the fences are intact.
“There are big concerns about the herbivorous marsupials. They are really prone to stress,” Mr Gralton said.
“Trees falling, high winds, that can be enough for them to get rid of their joeys, which is the whole point of having these insurance populations, to make them happy, safe and comfortable ready to raise the next generation .”
Mr Gralton said baby kangaroos and koalas are at high risk because they are not strong enough to handle wild weather.
“Drowning is a huge risk for these animals,” he said.
“There is great panic and the animals usually go in all directions.
“The already vulnerable individuals, whether old, young or sick, generally do not survive these kinds of events.”
dr. Vengetas said that while it’s too early to know the full impact on wildlife populations, there are ways people can help. Both WWF and Aussie Ark have flood fundraisers to support their work.
“After the wildfires and floods, I have seen an outpouring of love that I have never seen before at this level, for nature, for our wildlife, for our earth.”