Some weigh less than a can of soft drink but these little guys are carrying the hope of the ­nation’s decimated wildlife populations.
Some weigh less than a can of soft drink but these little guys are carrying the hope of the ­nation’s decimated wildlife populations.

New hope emerges for our native animals

Some weigh less than a can of soft drink but these little guys are carrying the hope of the ­nation's decimated wildlife populations.

A newborn wombat and a joey named April have taken refuge at a virtual Noah's ark, which is at the forefront of the fight to rebuild several species after they were obliterated by bushfires.

April the swamp wallaby joey at the Picton home of WIRES volunteer Noeline Bondfield. Picture: Richard Dobson
April the swamp wallaby joey at the Picton home of WIRES volunteer Noeline Bondfield. Picture: Richard Dobson

April was retrieved from the pouch of her mother, who was run over while fleeing the bushfires.

She is now among thousands of native animals being cared for by the state's volunteer wildlife rescue operation, WIRES.

A tiny wombat joey being cared for by WIRES. Picture: Richard Dobson
A tiny wombat joey being cared for by WIRES. Picture: Richard Dobson

Volunteer Noeline Bondfield, 70, said millions of koalas, kang­aroos, possums and other animals perished in the fires.

"The babies in care that have been able to survive, they may be the only ones that are left in this area because of the horrendous numbers that were burnt and died in the fires," Ms Bondfield said on Wednesday.

WIRES volunteers such as Ms Bondfield have been moved to tears by the generosity of people from all over the world who have been donating about $1 million a day to the organisation since the beginning of the year.

April being bottle fed by Ms Bondfield. Picture: Richard Dobson
April being bottle fed by Ms Bondfield. Picture: Richard Dobson

Many have been moved by the fact that the native animals exist nowhere else in the world. "It's going to mean everything to WIRES, more ­importantly it's going to mean everything to our native animals," spokesman John Grant said.

"This is unprecedented, this is uncharted territory.

"The young animals we have in care now are going to be needed more than ever to ­rebuild the wildlife populations that have been lost to these ­terrible fires."

April is snuggled up in multiple pounches as baby wallabies typically like to borrow down. Picture: Richard Dobson
April is snuggled up in multiple pounches as baby wallabies typically like to borrow down. Picture: Richard Dobson

To put the extraordinary amount of donations into perspective, during the last bushfire crisis in 2013, WIRES received a total of $200,000 in donations.

While vets give the rescued animals free check-ups, the ­organisation has to pay for medical supplies, medications, special food, rescue equipment and enclosures.

They also cover the costs of recruiting and training more volunteers to increase the capacity of the organisation.

Baby April, a swamp wallaby, has increased in weight from 350g to 480g since she was brought in by a motorist in the Southern Highlands.

Ms Bondfield says April likes to look around. Picture: Richard Dobson
Ms Bondfield says April likes to look around. Picture: Richard Dobson

Her home is a cotton pouch inside a woollen pouch inside a haversack hung inside a cot.

"Such young babies normally like to just burrow down and hide in their pouch but madam here likes to look around," Ms Bondfield said.