Cyclone Debbie struck land a few days ago in North Queensland, creating a disaster for many human residents, some who have lost their homes and contents, and sometimes crops they depend on for their livelihoods. Pets and domestic livestock have also been lost, and wildlife, whether terrestrial, aquatic or marine, must have suffered as well, either directly or by destruction of their habitats.
We expected rain in the Scenic Rim as the weather system moves south. This usually happens after cyclones up north. But – despite warnings – the severity of the weather in the Scenic Rim and neighbouring regions has taken many by surprise. Creeks and rivers rose enormously. Many roads are closed, even three days after the rain started, due to water levels, fallen trees or rock falls, and parts of some have been washed away. Many of the trees and shrubs along creek beds have gone, and wildlife will often be faced with flooded grassy paddocks as they try to escape. No one really knows what happens to the platypus in such floods. Do they usually perish in the violently surging water that’s tossing trees and boulders around? Do they sit it out in their burrows and dig new exits when things calm down? Do they sometimes survive getting washed downstream and later returned, or replaced later by their progeny recolonizing their former territories?
Many Scenic Rim residents are still either flooded in at home or unable to reach home, and it may be some time before we have any idea how much habitat has been lost, how many animals have been killed, orphaned or injured, but I expect wildlife carers will be busy over the next few weeks, and appreciative of any assistance to provide food and other items for the furred, feathered or scaly refugees in their care.