Wildlife carers, inundated with injured animals, and coping with their own losses from the fire, have welcomed expert teams from animal emergency response organisations in Australia and around the world.
Coordinating this response is the NSW Wildlife Council (NWC), the peak body for more than 25 licensed and entirely voluntary wildlife rescue groups. NWC members represent more than half of all wildlife carers licensed across the state.
NWC spokesperson Sonja Elwood said all the groups had been impacted by both fire and drought.
"Many are struggling to cope with the devastating amount of hungry, injured, orphaned, burnt and starving wildlife in the wake of the record-breaking drought and recent catastrophic fires throughout south-eastern Australia," Ms Elwood said.
"We are enormously grateful for support from animal emergency disaster response organisations International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), New Zealand-based Helping You Help Animals (HUHANZ) and Vets Beyond Borders (VBB).
"These expert teams are providing vital help at this time of crisis - not only are they saving lives, they are providing much needed support and respite to our carers who are working around the clock in traumatic and exhausting circumstances."
Last week Sydney Wildlife Rescue deployed its mobile care unit to the south coast to support sister group, Wildlife Rescue South Coast (WRSC). They were tag-teamed by HUHANZ who quickly established two temporary veterinary centres, one to service the coast with WRSC, and the second to assist in the tablelands with Braidwood based Native Animal Rescue Group (NARG). HUHANZ brought veterinarians, vet nurses, builders, their own trailers and even a cook to ensure they are not a burden on local volunteer wildlife carers. VBB also immediately stepped in to provide additional veterinary support.
A third team will arrive from Animal Disaster Emergency Response Germany and France on Friday, January 24 and discussions are also underway with a UK-based organisation, whose representative will arrive Sunday, January 26.
Using their extensive network and local knowledge, NWC will coordinate the deployment of these organisations to where they are most needed, and the resources required.
"Being prepared for future bushfire crises and ongoing drought is critical, and the NWC look forward to contributing our experience and expertise in future State emergency response planning," Ms Elwood said.