RSPCA South Australia’s recovery work on Kangaroo Island is into its fifth week, with the second round of volunteer teams continuing to boost local efforts to feed bushfire-affected wildlife.
Working under the direction of National Parks and Wildlife SA, the teams entered the Flinders Chase National Park on Tuesday. It was the first time they have had access to the park, which has remained closed to the public since fires swept through last month.
RSPCA South Australia teams have now established feeding stations at more than 40 locations across the island, and there is clear evidence that animals are consuming the feed. Team members will soon install motion-activated cameras to gather information on the numbers and species of animals eating at the stations.
As with the first volunteers who kicked off the program on Monday February 3, six of the nine people selected to join RSPCA South Australia’s feed distribution program are island residents. (More than 13,500 registered their interest in volunteering after the call went out on January 24. Applications have now closed.)
Overseeing the volunteer operation is a newly appointed Field Operations Manager. Melanie Lambert is a former Naturalist Guide at Kangaroo Island’s Southern Ocean Lodge, and has returned to the island five weeks after bushfires incinerated the iconic site.
The current team leaders include RSPCA South Australia Inspector Emma Shepley, who was part of the organisation’s emergency response for animals in the wake of fires in the Adelaide hills last December.
The volunteer teams are operating in collaboration with landholders and local wildlife rescue groups.
So far they have:
- Established two feed distribution depots at Parndana and Nepean Bay, south of Kingscote. Islanders who wish to support native animals on their properties are now able to collect feed from either of these depots at no cost.
- Established more than 40 feeding stations on private properties (including plantations) and inside Flinders Chase National Park. Some stations are at ground level and some have been set up in trees to protect native animals at risk from predators.
- Continued to use GPS (Global Positioning System) tracking to pinpoint via satellite navigation the exact location of feeding stations and facilitate regular replenishment of feed
- Set up shelters (made by volunteers) for ringtail, brushtail and pygmy possums in trees that have no foliage due to the fires
- Assisted National Parks and Wildlife SA with aerial feed drops – the first took place on Wednesday February 5 and the second is due to take place today
RSPCA South Australia is also providing financial support to local residents and groups who are caring for and rescuing wildlife impacted by the bushfires.
RSPCA South Australia will continue to coordinate volunteer teams on the island for the next three to five months. The duration is dependent on the time it takes for native vegetation food sources to regenerate sufficiently to sustain animals that are currently at risk of starvation.
Also currently on Kangaroo Island is RSPCA South Australia Veterinarian Dr Lauren Eyre, who has returned to the island for a second time since the fires. She is assisting in the treatment and care of injured wildlife brought to the main triage centre, located inside the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park at Parndana.