January 16, 2020 / By Jacqueline Alanne
I’d prefer to begin this with ‘in the wake of recent bushfires’ – but the reality is, Kangaroo Island is still burning. Over the last three heartbreaking weeks, access to many areas of the island became impossible, while evacuations were wide-spread. Almost half the island is gone.
At the time of writing, a visit to the local CFS website shows three fires actively burning on the Western side of the island one fire ‘First reported 30th December’, while over 60 homes have been lost, 2 lives, plus a devastating 215,000 hectares, including all of Flinders Chase National Park; yet the repercussions of this devastating season are far from over.
The ABC report that State Government numbers show over 32,000 livestock have been lost in the fires, and I’m officially running out of words for devastating.
Meanwhile, the army have moved in to provide support wherever they can, whether it’s assisting local CFS crews, or spreading sweet potatoes for surviving animals - as in many parts of the island, barely a leaf has survived, one of the major fears is that surviving animals will die of starvation.
Rather than speculate on the reasons why this fire has started, or when it will end, here we share ways for you to support locals residents and businesses alike. Let’s support the unbreakable spirit of this incredible local community that call the island home.
Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park
The KI Wildlife Part is raising money for the immediate treatment of surviving wildlife across the island. As fires approached the wildlife sanctuary and the 700 animals it homes, the heroic family running KI Wildlife Park made the brave call to stay and protect their animals, with fires coming within 100m of their home. While amazingly, all their animals survived, countless others from around the island have not been so lucky.
The ABC reports that a shocking 25,000 koalas are estimated to have been killed in the fires. Right now, the Wildlife Park are tirelessly treating hundreds of burnt and otherwise injured animals across the island. You can support their incredible efforts via their gofundme page.
Kangaroo Island is home to a rare and special Italian species of bee – The Ligurian Bee. Interestingly, thanks to its isolation, this Ligurian population is even more genetically pure than its homeland. These bees produce the purest honey in the world living off KI’s normally fruitful native flora, including antioxidant rich Mallee, Tea Tree, and Melaleuca.
Unfortunately, the fires have destroyed roughly a quarter of the island’s hives, including the hives, orchard, workshop, tanks, irrigation, and tools of Bush Organics. The family business are still selling their products and have also started a gofundme page to raise funds to assist the entire NW corner of the island with fire fighting equipment.
Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary
There’s nothing quite as devastating as loss of life, and Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary are truly feeling the effects. Guardians of 5000 acres of native flora and fauna, their entire property has been obliterated, with huge numbers of wildlife lost.
While regularly functioning as a sanctuary with cabin accommodation, right now the Hanson Bay family are working tirelessly to feed and treat surviving and injured animals. Keep your eye on their page so you can support the sanctuary when they begin tours again. For now, they require funds to repopulate the vegetation for surviving wildlife.
Sealink Kangaroo Island Racing Carnival 2020
The island’s tourism is a huge part of its economy, and this year's Racing Carnival is as important to the island as ever. While this is a regular event, this year the island is having to outsource volunteers, as many regular local volunteers are busy defending their homes, or grappling with the devastating loss of their homes.
Attracting visitors from across Australia and beyond, with the Eastern side of the island largely undamaged, the Cygnet River event will still go ahead.This spirited move, as urged by the mayor of the island, sends an important message from the KI community – while there’s so much work to be done, KI is open for business – and it needs you.
This is a snapshot of some of the organisations and businesses affected. Residents and small businesses urge you not to abandon them as there are still so many places you can visit on the island that are unaffected and you are able to visit.
Everyone on KI has been impacted by the fires. Personally, I’ve only been lucky enough to visit the island once, but researching and writing this has had me in tears. Only a few hours drive and a ferry from Adelaide, I will be certainly re-visiting the island and supporting its tourism this year.
Any and all help for this strong and brave community makes a difference – please donate or visit if you can!