The variety of rescues are vast and include anything from small furless joeys to large adult male kangaroos. The methods are as diverse and tailored to the species, age of the victim, location, time of the year and the reason it needs to be rescued. We have searched the hot Australian bush in over 40 degrees Celsius for days to find an adult kangaroo reported with a rope tangled around her feet. We have dug in search for wombat burrow entrances that had been destroyed in remote locations in State Forest in the middle of the winter with a snow-covered ground. We have been called upon after so called “legal roo-culls” to find bodies lying everywhere, joeys still alive in pouches, shot adults still alive with missing jaws or parts of an arm, shot wallabies and wombats. We once found a live joey in the pouch SIX days after her mother had been shot dead, a strong little girl who now as an adult refuses to leave the safety of “home”.
Pouched joey rescues are common after vehicle collisions and shooting victims. If the joey needs to be removed from the pouch, the mother is often deceased or too injured to be able to survive. The joey can stay alive in the deceased mother’s pouch for many days depending on the weather and predators. Joeys can be difficult to remove as they do not want to leave their mother’s pouch and should never be pulled out by their legs, head or tail. If the mother is deceased, scissors can be used to cut the pouch open, taking great care not to cut any part of the joey, and then just gently scoop up the joey and placing it in a soft cotton liner/pouch.
Kangaroos and Wallabies can get caught in discarded ropes, electric fencing tape, wire, haybale twine or anything else laying around. They are often mobile but with some restriction depending on the circumstances. They are frightened and approaching large macropods can be dangerous as they feel threatened and sometimes trapped. The best solution is to dart the animal (licence required) and then remove the entanglement, making sure there are no injuries and allow them to recover at their own pace by monitoring from a safe distance
Walking onto a site after a kangaroo cull is surreal, bodies lying everywhere, an eerie feeling of emptiness and sadness. We find not only kangaroos shot but also wallabies and wombats, many joeys still alive in the shot mother’s pouches, at foot joeys standing by their deceased mothers waiting for them to guide them through the horror they have just witnessed. These joeys are severely traumatized and would die a slow and lonely death if not rescued. Most of the mothers killed have body shots rather than head shots and joeys still alive in pouches have injuries sustained as the mother falls to the ground while in flight. The older joey in the picture did not survive, the mental trauma was just too much and he succumbed to myopathy a week after we rescued him. Once we found a joey still alive six days after the mother was shot.
The number of nights we have spent by the road side waiting and searching for a missing joey, that is hiding in a burrow nearby a deceased mother, is depressing. A wombat joey still dependent on the mother but old enough to just be out of the pouch will either stay by the mother’s side or hide somewhere nearby until dehydration, starvation or a predator claim their life. We have set up traps, we have dug holes and propped up the mother’s body over the hole hoping the joey would return and crawl under mum. Too many unsuccessful nights and therefore, we now use a camera. A modified toy truck with four wheels under and four wheels at the top for wheeling around corners and in case it tips over deep in the burrow it can still be wheeled out. A camera and flexible extension rods are attached to the truck. The camera is hardwired with a very long lead to the monitor screen left at the entrance of the burrow.