AVERT volunteer vet nurse Candice (aka Cat) Drew travelled to NSW’s South Coast from Melbourne to help out at the Wandandian Kangaroo and Wallaby Sanctuary, run by Wildlife Rescue South Coast Inc.
“I would’ve paid for my own flights if needed but because I’m currently not working the free flights are much appreciated. Thanks Jetstar!” she said.
Each day, Cat is busy with drawing up medications, preparing for bandage changes, restocking and sorting, following up treatments, catching up with paperwork and occasional call-outs to collect new patients and admit new arrivals from other carers when needed.
She said, “We currently have about 30 macropods – mostly eastern grey kangaroos, plus a few red-necked wallabies and swamp wallabies – some with burns to their hind feet and the remainder are orphaned joeys. Some of the animals require sedation /general anaesthesia every second day to debride and rebandage the wounds.
“The vet clinic is in a shed, initially set up by the wonderful people from HUHA in NZ. They got the worst of the burns cases and brought with them supplies, builders etc. and did an amazing job setting things up.
“It’s very much a case of using what we have and make do without anything we don’t have in terms of resources. Donations have been amazing and keep coming in. The problem has been sorting them all and finding what we want (if we have it) when we need it.”
It’s been a few weeks since the fires, so the critical rescue stage has passed, said Cat.
“The animals we’re treating now likely fled the fires and then returned to the area while the ground was still hot, because the burns are restricted to their hind feet. The remainder of the joeys get supplemental bottle feeds several times a day. There’s a group of local volunteers and other wildlife carers who help with feeds, and we get to help too when our vet duties are done!”
Cat said local carers have done a great job of recruiting and training local helpers who have been invaluable – a great team effort!
“Everyone has really rallied to help in whatever way they can. There are so many people behind the scenes who don’t get a mention and they’re working really hard,” she said.
“It’s so devastating what has happened to our wildlife populations and it’s not just the burns we need to deal with. These guys have suffered a huge trauma: they’ve lost their home and the joeys are all orphans. They had no previous contact with people, and we need to remember that these are wild animals, not pets. Even the process of being here and undergoing treatment is traumatic for them, and we have lost some to Capture Myopathy. We try to give them the contact and TLC they need, without reducing their ability to survive once released. I’ve become so attached to my patients and really hope they get to be released and make it.”
Thank you Cat for volunteering your time to help wildlife in need. We too hope the animals make it!