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Bushfire wildlife toll could hit 2 billion but there's a simple way Victorians can help

Bushfire wildlife toll could hit 2 billion but there's a simple way Victorians can help

Fears are growing that billions of native animals could be wiped out as habitats struggle to recover from the bushfire crisis in the months and years ahead. But there’s one simple thing Victorians can do to help from home.

Dr Megan Davidson said the full impact of the killer fires could continue for months and years as habitat and ecosystems disappear — even species that survive now could fail to recover.

Several endangered species could already be lost, she said, and feared for the future of many animals including the greater glider, Leadbeater’s possum, corroboree frog and even the grey-headed flying fox.

The foxes were “long-distance pollinators”, she said, and would play a key role in forest regeneration.

The already-endangered Southern Corroboree Frog.

“Some other species were hanging on in small pockets before the fires started so who knows their fate.’’

The toll on smaller animals such as lizards, snakes and even insects was almost impossible to comprehend, she said.

“And what are bees going to eat,” she asked.

The Department of Environment, Water, Land and Planning has set up a mobile animal clinic with Zoos Victoria and vets to assess and treat animals injured or displaced in the firegrounds.

Dr Davidson does have one piece of simple advice for anyone wanting to help native wildlife.

The Greater Glider’s habitat has been severely impacted.
The baby wombat saved from the fires.

“Take the nets off your fruit trees in the backyard. For the sake of a few pieces of fruit, you can help native animals survive,” she said.

Her warning comes as more tales emerge of wildlife rescues from the firegrounds.

Goongerah wildlife carers Rena Gaborov and Joe Henderson fled their East Gippsland home and shelter with a baby wombat, three kangaroo joeys and an orphaned ringtail possum in their car.

“The kangaroos were sedated on the back seat of the car and the baby wombat was in another car, inside a jumper sleeve,” Ms Gaborov said.

They sought refuge at a relative’s house in Sarsfield, but had to flee again when fires loomed over that that town too.

The rescued joeys recover in Sarsfield.

The Goongerah shelter was destroyed but already donations are pouring in to help with the rebuilding.

But Ms Gaborov is concerned about the future of many species.

“Pademelons, rock wallabies and potoroos were also once considered pests but now are highly endangered or extinct. Things can change quickly if we don’t act,” she said.

Fires destroyed up to 10 houses in the Goongerah area, about 70km north of Orbost.

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@IanRoyall