A team of New Zealanders of has just returned from Australia, after spending five weeks helping some of the animals affected by the country’s devastating bushfires.
The group, made up of members with animal nonprofit HUHA, got straight to work upon arrival, setting up a veterinary triage at a kangaroo sanctuary in New South Wales that had been ruined by the flames.
Carolyn Press-Mckenzie, charity’s founder, says their focus was helping those who already care for Australia’s animals.
“For us, it was about helping the caregivers. If we could help give them the tools to help are for their animals in this devastating situation, it would a bring a smile to their face and help them continue their work.”
HUHA volunteers spread across NSW, popping up at around five different sites, setting up clinics and helping rebuild already existing sanctuaries.
“The people we first met were grieving terribly. They were losing their environment and everything they loved about Australia was basically on fire.”
While there, they looked after any and every animals that came their way, including kangaroos, koalas, echidnas, wombats and wallabies.
“The burns were horrific. All the leather was burnt off their feet. It was pretty nasty.”
The Kiwi team’s presence was felt across the state and HUHA sites quickly became the go-to place for animals to be cared for. Even though the volunteers have returned to New Zealand, all their facilities are still up and running.
Though the work was long and hard, Ms Press-Mckenzie says things are already starting to take a turn for the better.
“Everywhere was black and decimated. Now, there's ants coming out of the ground, and trees you never thought in a million years would come back to life starting to have beautiful green coming out of them.”
She says the road ahead for animals affected by the fires will be long and bumpy, but they’re in the good hands of people who love and care for them.