As firefighters across the country work tirelessly to protect lives and assets, there is another special group of people who are preparing to help wildlife and other animals affected, ConnectPink’s Monique Patterson writes.
When I speak to Leslie Kurek by telephone you’d never know that she has been living with the very prospect of having to evacuate from her home in Tasmania’s White Beach for the past week or so.
She tells me that she is sitting on her verandah as there is less smoke than other days and staying by the phone for news (mobile phone reception is in and out, but she has landline reception, for now).
Leslie expresses deep sympathy for the people in Dunalley, about one hour away by car, who have lost their homes and all of their belongings, pictured is one of the burnt out homes.
“Our hearts go out to them,” she said. “We know a lot of people who have lost their houses.”
It seems that Leslie is a person who always puts others first.
She is preparing to help wherever she can in the coming weeks to care for wildlife and other animals affected by the fires.
Leslie, who has had an association the Bonorong Wildlife Shelter as a wildlife carer for the past 20 years, believes she may be called to help burnt and injured animals.
Sadly, she knows there will be casualties.
“I would assume there may be wallabies affected, if they ran ahead of the firefront, possums could be affected because they’ll go up a tree, which may burn, and wombats go down their burrows, but then smoke can affect them greatly,” Leslie said.
She has had many phone calls from people who are worried about pets or stock who are missing in fire affected areas.
“A lot of people are in deep shock and devastated their pets or stock are in the fire zone,” Leslie said.
“People are wanting to get back in there but it’s too dangerous.”
It’s not until I ask Leslie how things are for her that I find out that she has no power.
But she’s quick to assure me that she and her husband are coping just fine.
Leslie then tells me about a red heeler that went missing in nearby Murdunna when fires ripped through there.
The poor dog had burnt paws and was suffering respiratory issues due to smoke inhalation.
Leslie was able to treat the dog’s paws with burn cream.
She said the dog was obviously in pain, but lay still while she tended its feet and when she was finished, the dog turned around and licked her.
“I nearly cried,” Leslie said.
She added that the dog’s owner was distraught his dog was missing and was delighted to be reunited with it.
Leslie said offers of medical supplies (in readiness for helping wildlife) and help had been overwhelming.
“We’ve been inundated with hurricane lamps, torches and there is a load of food coming in to the peninsula. We want for nothing – the generosity has been incredible.”
Anyone who finds hurt or injured animals in Tasmania can contact the Orphaned and Injured Wildlife Hotline on (03) 6268 1184, the Department of Primary Industries on (03) 6233 6556 or Leslie directly (for the White Beach area) on (03) 6250 2516 or 0407 502 099.
Leslie Kurek is preparing to care for animals affected by bushfires in near-by Dunalley.
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