Total body count for fauna ‘incalculable’

 

She is responding to treatment and on the mend, but Anwen the koala is one of the few lucky ones.

Many of her furry friends did not escape the all-consuming blaze that destroyed their homes near Port Macquarie.

Rescued koala Anwen at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital. Picture: Supplied
Rescued koala Anwen at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital. Picture: Supplied

 

Around 15 adult koalas and one joey were rescued and taken to Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, but the total body count for local fauna so far is "incalculable'', experts say.

"The fires are at such a high intensity, we're not finding any bodies. They're completely incinerated to ash," said Cheyne Flanagan, clinical director of the hospital, which has been inundated with calls reporting dead or injured animals.

"I don't know if the koala population will ever recover, there's still three months of summer still to go," Ms Flanagan added.

An injured koala is treated at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital. Picture: Nathan Edwards
An injured koala is treated at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital. Picture: Nathan Edwards

Swamp wallabies, kangaroos and possums have also been "affected in large numbers", according to local rescue organisation FAWNA. "It's absolutely devastating. All the people around here say they've never seen it like this," FAWNA president Meredith Ryan said.

"But we're so grateful for all the members of the public and volunteers who have offered support and help."

- Kaitlyn Hudson O'Farrell

Rescued koala Peter gets some much needed oxygen at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital. Picture: Supplied
Rescued koala Peter gets some much needed oxygen at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital. Picture: Supplied

Four-legged friends also seeking shelter

Among the death and destruction, stories of extreme survival and heroism are emerging - some involving our four-legged friends.

Six-week-old Blueberry was among the humans and animals seeking shelter at Marlee, north of Taree, inside the public hall as embers rained down.

Leanne Waters with two of her horses, Rosco and Sophie, who she evacuated from her Old Bar property and sought refuge at the livestock evacuation shelter at Taree Showground on Sunday. Picture: AAP/Darren Pateman
Leanne Waters with two of her horses, Rosco and Sophie, who she evacuated from her Old Bar property and sought refuge at the livestock evacuation shelter at Taree Showground on Sunday. Picture: AAP/Darren Pateman

As well as a human shelter, it has become a makeshift dog shelter.

There was also a litter of pomeranian puppies, born late last week as the fires spread and their owners fled with them.

Jannie Cameron, who has spent countless hours caring for those people devastated by the blazes at the Marlee evacuation centre, is looking after the puppies and their mum - along with Blueberry and another two pooches saved from the fires.

Blueberry, six weeks old, was saved from the fires. Picture: Anton Rose
Blueberry, six weeks old, was saved from the fires. Picture: Anton Rose

But with a lack of electricity or running water, they are fast running out of resources.

And tempers have flared along with the flames as some people were blocked from trying to save their animals­ when fires hit homes and properties while owners were out. One couple was seen on Sunday afternoon pleading with police at a roadblock outside Taree to be allowed through to try to save their dogs.

- Anton Rose

 

 

Rescued koala Paul at the hospital. Picture: Supplied
Rescued koala Paul at the hospital. Picture: Supplied
Dogs rescued from the fires. Picture: Anton Rose
Dogs rescued from the fires. Picture: Anton Rose