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Kangaroo Island bushfires – update on RSPCA’s response and upcoming food drops

January 29, 2020

As we continue to respond to the bushfires on Kangaroo Island, we’re becoming increasingly concerned that a “second wave” animal welfare disaster is looming. Urgent action is needed now to save surviving animals.

That’s why we last week launched our three-month Emergency Response Plan. It provides surviving native animals with life-saving veterinary care, food and water. You can see the full plan here.

Under the plan, three teams of three RSPCA volunteers will be stationed on the island, working to seven-day rotating rosters under the leadership of a dedicated project manager.

Here’s an update on how we’re working to roll out the plan.

Land and aerial food drops to begin for fire-affected wildlife

We’re moving into final preparations for our land-based food drops for wildlife.

Our Chief Executive Officer Paul Stevenson and Chief Operations Officer Kevin Tinkler spent the past Australia Day long weekend on Kangaroo Island, liaising with affected locals and property owners, as well as charities and animal welfare groups working on the ground.

They also left kangaroo pellets and water for animals while moving around the island – the good news is that, while many animals have lost their lives, Paul and Kevin also spotted many survivors.

We were heartened to hear that many property owners continue to support affected wildlife in and around their properties with supplementary feeding.

But we have serious concerns for the welfare of native animals within the Flinders Chase National Park, which was decimated by intense fires. Few people have so far been able to enter the park to assist animals there.

The park has not yet reopened to the public as access roads are still too dangerous to pass. We understand the Australian Army will commence moving through the park this week, opening up roads and clearing burnt trees at risk of falling.

We are working hard to prepare our first three volunteer crews of nine people in total, so they are ready to move into the park to set up monitored feed and water stations as soon as it is safe to do so.

In the meantime, we have provided the State Government with supplies of kangaroo pellets to be used in aerial food drops across Flinders Chase National Park this week.

More than 13,000 people apply to join KI volunteer teams

Since announcing the plan last Friday, January 24, we’ve been overwhelmed by the response to our call-out for feed drop volunteers on Kangaroo Island, with almost 13,500 people applying in just four days. We have now closed applications and assessment is well underway to shortlist candidates.

Our primary focus right now is assembling our first three volunteer teams to head to Kangaroo Island – hopefully by the end of this week, providing Flinders Chase National Park has reopened.

If you applied to join our volunteer team, you do not need to do anything further to progress your application.

You will be contacted directly if you are being considered for these first teams. Please keep an eye on your emails in the coming weeks as we will be contacting more applicants to fill the ongoing seven-day volunteer rosters.

We again ask that you please be patient with us – coordinating this response is a huge effort and, given the enormous numbers of people wanting to help, the reality is that only a small percent of applicants will be successful.

Those wishing to help in other ways can Volunteering SA & NT for details of other volunteering opportunities that other organisations may have available.

Alternatively, you might consider volunteering at one of our shelters – we’re especially in need of help at the moment, as we rotate teams of our staff through Kangaroo Island to assist with the triage and treatment of injured animals.

A huge thank you to everyone who applied to volunteer and shared our call-out. Seeing so many people willing to give their time to work for animals in need in such difficult circumstances is truly inspiring.

This ongoing emergency response is being funded by donations made to our Bushfire Appeal. You can donate here. You can also read an overview of our response to Adelaide Hills and Kangaroo Island bushfires here.

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