The burnt-out wreck of James Fitzgerald’s home and sheds. Some sections have been sprayed with a blue sealant to prevent potential asbestos exposure.
It has been four weeks since James Fitzgerald lost his home and life’s dream, the Two Thumbs Wildlife Trust sanctuary at Peak View.
Since that day, James has only spent about five nights in a bed with a solid roof over his head. Every other night he has camped out, conducting search and rescue missions for wildlife in burnt country on his property and surrounds.
“I have often camped out in various places on my property in the past, and it’s usually always a noisy place,” says James.
“I would always hear things moving about, and koalas calling through the night, but now it is deadly silent.”
What was impenetrable bush on his property is now bare dirt and blackened sticks.
James hopes to rebuild koala enclosures on his property as soon as he can. So far in the Peak View area, there have been about 30 koalas found with a large proportion of them going to into care at the Australian National University.
Dr Karen Ford of the ANU says most of the koalas have been malnourished and dehydrated but are responding well. Some had minor burns, singed fur and blisters on their hands and feet.
“Hopefully most of them will be able to be relocated back into care in the Numeralla area soon,” said Dr Ford.
Eventually, the koalas will be released back into the Peak View area where they were found, but Dr Ford says it is uncertain when the habitat will again be ready for their release.
“We’re in unchartered territory. We haven’t seen fires like this, that have burnt so intensely and in such dry conditions. We don’t know how long it will take for the habitat to recover, or how long until the new growth is suitable for koalas to eat.
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