During the Christmas period of 2019-2020 fires began a journey that eclipsed Victoria's worst fears. The destruction of Gippsland natural heritage will have a long-lasting impact for the community and especially the natural environment. Around 450,000 hectares were destroyed during Black Saturday compared to 1.25 million hectares during the Gippsland Fires.
The upcoming Royal Commission into the bushfire season will target how the crisis was handled and hopefully also what resources were put into wildlife efforts. The public response was overwhelming with over 500 million dollars raised a distributed across a wide variety of agencies and individuals.
The Reptiles Victoria volunteers in March did a field trip visiting several sites in the region affected by fire and helped wildlife recovery efforts. We delivered food, funds, and equipment to several shelters. Wildlife Victoria, Zoos Victoria, Animals Australia, RSPCA, DELWP, and a wide range of volunteers descended into this region over several months to offer aid, resources, and deal with wildlife related issues.
The team toured the area from Bairnsdale through Lakes Entrance, up into the Goongerah area, and down through Orbost. It was an experience but signs of a reviving community was evident. The forests were a sight of kilometres of burnt forest and eerily quiet. The reptiles sightings were infrequent but reports of numerous Lace monitors around Orbost. Water dragons were observed along the water ways as well as several skink species. Reptiles traditionally can fare well especially species that are in close proximity to water. Only time will reveal the extent of the impact in this region.
We would like to acknowledge and thank WIRES for providing us with funding to able to carry out this project.
Reptile Rehab Refit
Between 2020 and 2021, Reptiles Victoria and its volunteers travelled across Victoria performing workshops on reptile rescue and rehabilitation. We equipped a number of shelters and foster carers with up to $2,000 worth of specialised reptile husbandry, supplies, equipment, and educational workshops. This equipped with them the vital knowledge and resources to house and treat injured animals.
During these workshops, extensive training and demonstration of effective husbandry was provided to over 100 attendees. Each shelter was provided the latest and innovative designs for housing using Exo Terra terrariums. This was in conjunction with suitable lighting, heating, essential supplements for feeding, and a variety of accessories to maximise their rehabilitation success.
Other shelters received 2.5 metre, high density, wire aviaries to accommodate working with the largest lizards; lace monitors in particular. We didn't want to leave our turtle friends behind so Reptiles Victoria trained extensively and provided outdoor ponds, and aquariums outfitted for treatment of injured freshwater turtles.
The outcome of this project has resulted in 15 volunteers, and new reptile trained shelters in these areas. This has greatly enhanced the rescue and rehabilitation efforts across Victoria.
We would like to acknowledge and thank WIRES for providing us with funding so we were able to carry out this project.
Bendigo - Living with Reptiles & Rescue and Rehabilitation Workshop
In April 2021, Reptiles Victoria hosted two workshops. The Living with Reptiles workshop encompassed understanding snake behaviours, common species encountered, reduce snake visits to property, snake myths and fallacy, how to deal with snakes using common sense, prevent snakebites amongst pets, and snake bite first aid.
The Reptile Rescue and Rehabilitation workshop hosted 45 people, and covered a wide range of essential topics. This included reptile biology, handling, short-term and long-term care, treatment regimes, hygiene regimes, and how to effectively rescue reptiles on-site. All participants took home show bag filled with reptile related products and information booklets.
We would like to thank WIRES for funding the show bags, and The Greater City of Bendigo for sponsoring our workshops.