OPINION

Compassion for wildlife grows as bushfires grip our hearts

Voice of Real Australia is a regular newsletter from Australian Community Media, which has journalists in every state and territory. Sign up here to get it by email, or here to forward it to a friend. Today's newsletter is written by Newcastle Herald journalist Damon Cronshaw.

Water Break: A swamp wallaby and her joey enjoy a reprieve from the drought on a Mount View property. Picture: Eleanor Lennard

Water Break: A swamp wallaby and her joey enjoy a reprieve from the drought on a Mount View property. Picture: Eleanor Lennard

One thing the recent bushfires have highlighted is that the public cares deeply about Australia's native animals.

If you're looking for a practical way to help the wildlife, you could follow the lead of Eleanor Lennard.

Eleanor set up a water station for animals on her property at Mount View in the Hunter Valley.

"I fill up the containers every second day," Eleanor said.

She set up cameras to discover what creatures were using the water.

A swamp wallaby and her joey have been spotted enjoying a refreshing drink, along with a wombat, possums, kookaburras, lyrebirds, a goanna, echidna, brush turkey and currawongs.

She loves helping the wildlife, photographing them and watching them interact.

"I've always loved all animals. It's great to see them all happy and content in the photos," she said. "I thought this way I could look after them until the creek and dams have water again."

She hopes people reading this story will be motivated to "do the same".

Another champion of wildlife is Aussie Ark president Tim Faulkner.

Aussie Ark has a purpose-built area at Barrington Tops ready to house and rehabilitate brush-tailed rock wallabies that bushfires have put under further threat.

Help Needed: Aussie Ark president Tim Faulkner with a dead wallaby in a national park.

Help Needed: Aussie Ark president Tim Faulkner with a dead wallaby in a national park.

When we spoke to Tim, who is also Australian Reptile Park's general manager, we were struck by the powerful emotion in his voice.

He was feeling the loss of ecology deeply: "Wild places and the natural world are shrinking rapidly."

He's working to ensure species will be around for the future.

"I work from the mindset that they'll be here in 1000 years. I have to believe that. If not, why am I doing it?", he said.

He said the survival of species "means something to a lot of people right now".

"It's going to mean a hell of a lot more in another 100 years when there's less of them."

Without forests, there is no life: "They're our clean air and water, they're our life support," he said.

"The forests are shrinking at a rapid rate through fire, drought and land clearing. We have to pay attention and focus on what's there. We're each connected to it, whether we like it or not."

Damon Cronshaw

journalist, Newcastle Herald

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