Tag Archives: wildfire

RIP Sam the Koala

Sam the KoalaBack in February, we blogged the story of Sam, the little koala who made front page news during the devastating wildfires in Australia. Sam had warmed hearts worldwide when she was photographed drinking from a water bottle offered by a rescuer.

At the Southern Ash Wildlife Centre, where Sam was recovering, she took a liking to Bob the koala, who was also at the shelter.

Sam was euthanized today during surgery to treat abdominal cysts that had developed. The painful scarring was too widespread for a cure to be possible.

Cysts affect 50% of the Australian koala population, and are the leading cause of death. They are brought on by stress.

Deborah Tabart, CEO of the Australian Koala Foundation, said she was saddened by Sam’s death but noted that thousands of other koalas die every year of the disease and are not lamented nor cared for by the government.

“Sam’s just the tip of the iceberg,” Tabart said. “Sam’s doing her wild cousins a huge favour by this international interest. Our koalas are in serious trouble across the country.”

Thanks to IslandMeri:

Koala Koala – we love you
But we chop down your home
And you run
Koala, Koala – where do you go
When we take your gum tree away

Please don’t run on the road
And please don’t cry
Help is on its way
We’re gonna learn what makes you die
Gonna send in some money today

You can’t dig a hole
Or live in a roof
Or hang from a big, fig tree
If I plant you a special Eucalypt
Will you come and live with me

Koalas they used to be everywhere
What a paradise it could be
A walk in the bush could be heaven
Bring the dreamtime back to me

Yeah, we’re going to learn what makes you die
Gonna send in some money today

Canaries in the mine…

Full story at Toronto Star.

Koala Koala Lyrics by John Williamson

John Williamson’s website

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International Virtual Dog Show for Australian Wildfire Relief

Australia wildfire

This past week, the world has watched in horror as bushfires in Australia have razed entire towns and devastated wild areas. Fires are still burning in Eastern Victoria ( North and North East of Melbourne) and New South Wales. At last count 181 souls have perished and over 1100 homes destroyed. In some areas it is still not possible to get into to find any bodies.

Australian Shepherd DogThe dog show people have come up with a wonderful fundraiser to help out Australian dog lovers in the affected regions: a virtual dog show open to anyone in the world who would like to enter and show off their dog friends.

Any dog is eligible to enter. There will be special classes for dogs from mixed marriages as well as a rainbow bridge category for dearly departed friends. The fee is $10 AUS per dog.

All money raised will be shared among Aussie members who are victims of the bushfires.

A catalogue of ‘the show’ will be given to each of the affected members as a sign of the support of their friends. Copies of the catalogue will also be available on the Dogs Victoria website. The catalogue will show breed, dog’s name and owner’s name.

Entries close March 6!

Why not make an entry in the name of your favourite dog that may no longer still be with you? You can download entry forms at the Dogs Victoria website

Dogs Victoria have raised over $60,000 at time of writing.

Koala Love Story

KoalasA love story between two badly burned koalas rescued from Australia’s deadliest bushfires has provided some heart-warming relief after days of devastation and the loss of over 180 lives.

The story of Sam and her new boyfriend Bob emerged after volunteer firefighter Dave Tree used a mobile phone to film the rescue of the bewildered female found cowering in a burned out forest at Mirboo North, 150 kilometres southeast of Melbourne.

Photos and a video of Tree, 44, approaching Sam while talking gently to her, and feeding her water from a plastic bottle as she put her burned claw in his cold, wet hand quickly hit video sharing website Youtube, making her an Internet sensation.

But it was after reaching a wildlife shelter that Sam met and befriended Bob, who was saved by wildlife workers on Friday, two days before Sam, in Boolarra, about 180 km from Melbourne.

Tree, who has been a volunteer firefighter for 26 years, said it was extremely rare to get so close to a koala so he asked his colleague Brayden Groen, 20, to film him.

“I yelled out for some water and I sat down with her and tipped the water up. It was in my hand and she reached for the bottle then put her right claw into my left hand which was cold so it must have given her some pain relief and she just left it there. It was just amazing.”

Sam was taken to the Southern Ash Wildlife Shelter in Rawson. Her story was reminiscent of a koala named Lucky who survived the 2003 bushfires that destroyed about 500 homes and killed four people in the capital of Canberra. Lucky became a symbol of hope.

Colleen Wood from the Southern Ash Wildlife Shelter that is caring for Sam and Bob said both koalas were doing well while other animals like possums, kangaroos, and wallabies were also starting to emerge from the debris.

Tree, a volunteer with the Country Fire Authority Victoria, has visited Sam since her rescue and was delighted to see she had found a boyfriend in Bob.

“They’ve really taken a shine to each other as they are both burnt and share the same burnt smell,” he said.

“My heart goes out to the people in these fires and this was so innocent so people have used this to distract them from all the sad stuff that has gone on. It gives people a bit of hope.”

Story at Toronto Star.

Aussie Wildfire Horse Hero

Linda Gordon, over at Throughstones (a serene and inspiring  environmental art blog) knows that I’m an incurable animal lover, and she may even suspect that I’m a huge fan of Temple Grandin. She sent me this bittersweet story – a piece of good news out of the awful Australian wildfires.

Jeune Mark

Anthony Sexton walked off his property at 5.30pm on Saturday leading a horse with one hand, nursing a beer in the other and wearing his work clothes from the Yallourn W power station. Behind him lay the small hobby farm he had called home for 30 years — surrounded by flames.

The horse he led off the property and the smelly clothes he still wears represent a large portion of his remaining worldly belongings. A singed four-wheel-drive, old Massey Ferguson tractor, an old car, and a collection of charred cigarette lighters salvaged from the wreckage of his house probably round out the list.

The 130-year-old farmhouse he was slowly bringing back to its former glory had been flattened by the Gippsland blaze, and he estimates 97 per cent of his farm was burnt out.

“We were sitting there and we were watching the fire. And it was up here in the mountains. We were watching the fire front go through and we thought we were safe,” he said. “And then all of a sudden the cool change came in, the smoke came in, the sun went and my denial turned into panic.

Mr Sexton grabbed his horse, Jeune Mark, the offspring of 1995 Melbourne Cup winner Jeune, a cold beer from the fridge and walked out the gate. They started trotting, but just a few hundred metres from home they were confronted by flames.

“As we got up around the corner the flames just went absolutely sick, so I thought we’d turn around and try and race back. But the fire came up behind us, it came down from the hill, and we were just bloody engulfed, and I just thought to myself, ‘That’s it. This is where I’m going to die,’ ” he said.

But then something remarkable happened, perhaps by accident, perhaps not. Jeune Mark pushed him over a guard rail, and after a short wrestle with the horse he stumbled and raced, afire, down to the Traralgon Creek and lay in it.

A few hours later, he climbed back up to his house. “Everything was gone. Everything was flattened. The land was flattened. All my fences are gone, my fern gully is gone, everything’s gone.”

Jeune Mark, however, was standing in the paddock, the worse for wear, with burns around his eyes and nose, but still alive. “I was over the moon (when I saw him).”

Mr Sexton’s house, at Koornalla in the foothills of the Strzelecki Ranges, is one of scores of houses thought to have been flattened by the Gippsland blaze. This blaze has claimed at least nine lives.

Complete story at The Age