'Gut wrenching' footage of animals who died in bushfires lying on roadside

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WARNING – DISTRESSING CONTENT: An ABC cameraman has released “gut wrenching” footage of the “worst thing” he has seen, but insists the story must be told.

Native wildlife and livestock are among the casualties of the devastating bushfires which have persisted across Australia for months now, including animals which are on the brink of extinction.

The national broadcaster’s cameraman Matt Roberts shared a video on his Twitter page, which offers some confronting perspective on the devastating toll the bushfires are taking on Australia’s wildlife.

As the cameraman drives slowly through the south western NSW town of Batlow through the thick haze of smoke, dozens of dead wildlife and livestock can be seen charred at the side of the road.

Millions of animals are dead and hundreds of thousands more will perish over coming days as a result of killer bushfires terrorising southeast Australia.

Native wildlife and agricultural livestock are among the fatalities, with already-endangered species at greater risk of extinction. The extent of the carnage may never be known.

A still from video showing dead animals lying at the side of the road in Batlow, NSW.
Native wildlife and agricultural livestock are among the fatalities, with already-endangered species at greater risk of extinction. Source: Matt Roberts/Twitter

"The fires will have killed millions of animals... mammals, birds, reptiles," Wildlife Victoria boss Megan Davidson told AAP.

And the threat is not over with wildlife rescue groups likely to be helpless in many instances.

"It is largely a job of euthanising at this stage, both livestock and wildlife," Dr Davidson said.

"They are so severely burned that there is nothing better you can do than end their suffering,” she added.

How to help thirsty wildlife

Despite the scale of destruction caused by the fires, Dr Davidson is hopeful that animal populations can recover.

"It is sometimes surprising how quickly things will recover – as soon as conditions are good again they can very rapidly breed up," she said.

The photo that went viral in 2009 of CFA firefighter David Tree sharing his water with an injured Australian Koala at Mirboo North after wildfires swept through the region. Source: AP
The photo that went viral in 2009 of CFA firefighter David Tree sharing his water with an injured Australian Koala at Mirboo North after wildfires swept through the region. Source: AP

Dr Davidson said everyone can help animals that are not only suffering from fires, but from years of drought.

"It's grim but we don't want people to despair," she said.

What people can do to help:

  • Distribute containers of water outdoors, being sure to throw in some sticks and leaves so that insects have something to cling to

  • Swimming pool owners should add "climb-out points" so animals don't drown

  • Fruit tree owners should remove netting to share their produce

  • When offering pellets and hay, be sure to spread the food out so that species have a lesser chance of being targeted by predators

With AAP

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