San Diego Zoo Global’s Australian Wildlife Relief


(gentle music) – Seeing absolute devastation, it’s utterly heartbreaking, really. I’ve just driven down through
Bells Line of Road today, which crosses the heart of
the World Heritage Area, and there’s just fire ground
everywhere you can see. Just, black charred stumps, there’s a couple of
patches of canopy left, but the understory’s all gone. About 80% of the World Heritage Area looks like it’s burnt now,
there’s not much left. Right now we’re in
emergency response mode. So, we’re trying to get water and food out to these animals. Their habitat’s gone, they
don’t have anything to eat. The dehydration is a major problem, so right now we’re urgently
trying to get water stations out into as many areas as we can, and also doing food drops so that the animals that have survived, we can keep them alive by putting as much help
out there as we can. One of the challenges we’ve faced in the Blue Mountains area is they’re really difficult
habitats to survey for koalas. The trees can be really big, the canopy can be really dense, and you just can’t see them by looking. So, in some areas, you can
just do a visual transect, walk along, look up and count koalas. You can’t do that in this area, so we’ve trialed a lot of
different survey methods, and the most effective by
far is using detection dogs. (dog barks) – Oh, show me Smudge! – [Kellie] The dog will
help us find the scats. If we find fresh scat, we can then start focusing on the canopy, and doing intense search, and hopefully locate the koala as well. But certainly in these
areas, it’s too difficult. If we do a transect using
people, looking for scats, it’ll take three people an hour or so. A dog will do double
that area in five minutes and find more scat. So they’re incredibly useful out here. – Well done, Smudge! – There are some signs of hope. So where we rescued the koalas from Kanangra-Boyd National Park, there’s a little patch to the north where we’re hoping to put them back. So normally you hope, with a fire, that there’s some refuge areas left, that the fire will skip a gully, or leave a patch unburnt, and that’s where animals
can recolonize from. We have been worried about the scale and intensity of these fires, that there’s not going to
be nearly enough of those, and that’s something we have to assess, because normally you get
maybe one national park, possibly two burning, but not all of them at
once like we’ve seen. We’ve seen the whole World
Heritage Area covered. So one of the urgent things we need to do is get in there and find out what’s left.

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