Wednesday , April 8 2020

Australia bushfires: Express readers’ generosity is saving koalas | Nature | News

More than £5,500 has been raised after a plea last Monday by TV vet Dr Scott Miller. Scott said: “I would like to say a massive thank-you to Express readers from myself, from Australia and from the koalas. It’s amazing that people from across the world can see how significant the catastrophe has been. It’s very humbling that people are being very supportive and reaching into their pockets.”

An area a third of the size of Britain is estimated to have been ravaged since the blazes began in September. 

On Friday a state of emergency was declared in the capital Canberra, with residents told to prepare to evacuate as fires on the outskirts threatened to spread. 

A billion animals are feared to have died, including 25,000 koalas. 

Last week Scott told how he had visited his homeland, helping to save wildlife on Kangaroo Island off the coast of Adelaide. 

While there he rescued a mother and baby koala who were stuck in a tree. The pair were rushed to a field hospital on the island to be treated. 

The mum had severe burns to her paws and was badly dehydrated, while her baby son had an eye injury and was underweight. 

Scott, who has appeared on ITV’s This Morning and BBC’s Blue Peter, said the mother is showing “great signs of improvement” and her wounds are starting to heal. The baby has undergone surgery to his eye and is “recovering from the anaesthetic and doing well”. 

But he added: “The mother remains dehydrated so isn’t producing enough milk to feed the baby. 

“At the moment they’re being housed separately but there is the hope that when the baby is a little stronger he will be able to be returned to his mother.” 

Even after they recover, the pair will probably spend their lives in an enclosure while the bush takes years to recover. Scott said: “Sadly patients are still coming in thick and fast. Each of these animals is requiring to be housed and fed, and regular medical treatment to their injuries. 

“It is a problem that will need support for years to come.” 

As well as asking readers to donate to Koala-Aid to fund help for other bears, Scott asked for names for the rescued koalas. 

The chosen two came from Renee Jevons, from Wolverhampton, who suggested Matilda and Scottie. Renee, 75, said: “I’m absolutely delighted. I chose Scottie after Scott himself, of course, and Matilda after the famous Australian song, Waltzing Matilda.” 

Renee said she had never been Down Under, but added: “The work Scott has been doing out there is so fantastic. 

“The fires are such an important issue as the climate crisis is a global problem and it will take years to fix the trees. 

“To read his article was heartbreaking – you could sense how he must have been feeling.” 


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