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Kiwi who led Aussie bushfire rescue team says 'long road ahead' for wildlife rehab

A Kiwi who led a team of 10 volunteers to Australia to recover and assist wildlife affected by the bushfires says many of the animals still have a "long road ahead" in terms of their rehabilitation.

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Steve Glassey led a team of 10 volunteers to Australia to help the affected animals. Source: Breakfast

Steve Glassey of Animal Evac NZ, speaking this morning to TVNZ 1's Breakfast, said the sheer scale of the disaster is still unfolding, and that animal habitats have been devastated.

"The fires that have gone through have destroyed food sources, so lots of animals have certainly been affected," Mr Glassey said.

"These fires have melted car engines, they've melted glass - the fires have been up to 1000 degrees, so to find survivors after that is a pretty hard call.

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"You've had animals such as wombats and echidnas that have buried themselves and managed to escape, but when they do come out they've now got no water, no food sources.

"It was very common for us to see quite emaciated, dehydrated animals.

"There's a long road ahead for their rehabilitation."

He said many of the animals have suffered burn injuries to their feet, which are difficult to effectively treat.

Finding injured animals was difficult, Mr Glassey said, like finding "a needle in a haystack", but there had been some success stories, such as his team rescuing an echidna left without a source of food.

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Mr Glassey praised Australian fire services, who have "done a great job of getting the fire under control", and said efforts are now shifting toward rehabilitation of both animals and their habitats.

"The Australian government have put up some funding to support rehabilitation, naturally they'll have to have a strategy around how they're going to rehabilitate, also, the environment," Mr Glassey said.

He said Kiwis should realise that fires can happen anywhere, including New Zealand, and take steps now to ensure their own pets and livestock are given the best chance in a worst-case scenario.

"That comes down to personal preparedness, making sure you've got a plan for your own animals," Mr Glassey said.

"We've got resources like emergency plans for horses on our website, but if you own a cat, or multiple cats, making sure that you've got a pet carrier for each animal."

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