The Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife (FNPW) has expanded its Wildlife Heroes program into Victoria, South Australia and Queensland to ensure that all Australian wildlife volunteers have what they need to respond to the devastating bushfires.
“Our first priority is to support all the wildlife rescue volunteers who have been working tirelessly across the country in response to this crisis and to provide them with the resources they need on the ground now,” says Ian Darbyshire, CEO of FNPW.
The NSW government through its Environmental Trust has provided $200,000 for emergency response in that state. FNPW has allocated $250,000 to other states for release in the coming weeks and aims to raise further funds with continued support from donors and sponsors for ongoing response.
“This will ensure there is long term support for wildlife rehabilitation and habitat restoration so that animals can be safely released back into the wild.”
Mr Darbyshire attended a Ministerial roundtable on Wednesday to discuss priorities focussing on the bushfire response and FNPW is working closely with the Commonwealth to support the needs of wildlife rescue and rehabilitation across Australia.
Wildlife Heroes launched in New South Wales in late 2019 and was one of the first programs to get bushfire emergency funds to 20 wildlife groups in need. FNPW has been working closely with wildlife groups to understand their evolving need for help, and to provide resources for each stage of the response and recovery.
“The fires, drought and heat have put an enormous strain on already overworked wildlife carers in New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland and Victoria,” says Audrey Koosmen, Chair of the NSW Wildlife Council.
“The demand for rescue and information services means volunteers are working around the clock. They have not had a summer break and many have had to take time off from paid work. Some of our volunteers have also lost homes or had their animal care facilities destroyed.”
Wildlife groups are already worried about how they will cope once the fires are over and the recovery stage begins. FNPW is developing a strategy to provide ongoing mental health and financial support.
Wildlife Heroes will fund and coordinate the following in all states affected by bushfires:
- -Emergency response grants for out of pocket expenses such as fuel, medication, first aid and safety equipment.
- -Carer wellbeing and mental health support
- -Emergency response planning and training
- -Public education activities
- -Veterinary expertise for injured wildlife
Wildlife Heroes has support from the NSW Government’s Environmental Trust to run for at least three years in NSW. With continued support from other sources Wildlife Heroes will remain in place across Australia.