Gary Henderson and his partner Sara Tilling will always be haunted by everything they encountered after their wildlife sanctuary was destroyed by fire.
While checking the heartbreaking destruction, they noticed a severely injured wallaby cowered on a paddock, trying to go under a sheet of tin.
In an interview with AAP, Ms. Tilling said: “Oh my god … it was just … I don’t how how he was still alive.”
The devastated couple were forced to put the animal down with the limited supplies they had – a blunt instrument and a small dose of sedative.
Then they found a female kangaroo the next morning. “The whole front of her body was just a burnt mess, so we had to do the same thing to her,” Ms. Tilling expressed.
“To have to do that to any animal is something I think that will haunt us – and to have seen the scale of the injuries when they were still alive – that will haunt us for the rest of our lives.”
Their 850-acre property at Cobargo on the New South Wales south coast became a haven for hundreds of animals, including wallabies, birds, wombats, and kangaroos.
But a firestorm thundered through during New Year’s Eve and destroyed everything. “We could not believe the scale of the devastation,” she added.
“People said to us you need to prepare yourself for what you’re going to encounter. You cannot prepare yourself for what we found when we got home.”
Wallabies burned by the fast-moving fire. Wombats buried alive and kangaroos electrocuted by fallen power-lines.
Only one charred shed was all that was left standing and that’s where the couple slept for nights as they tried to get back on their feet. They also spent weeks caring for surviving animals and burying those who didn’t make it.
Thanks to their efforts, about 20 kangaroos have slowly recovered but many animals died from smoke inhalation, muscle disease and burns.
They are now focused on rebuilding enclosures to take care of injured and sick animals. Fundraising allowed them to raise over $70,000.
“I think as we help the animals we will heal as well, and I think that’s probably the best thing we can do,” she added.
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