March 23, 2021

Why floods hit these animals the hardest

Why floods hit these animals the hardest
Dr. Chris Brown

How can you not be moved by this photo of a cow literally clinging to life on the mid north coast of NSW? So I thought I’d look at which animals are hit the hardest by floods and what we can do to help...

Not surprisingly, cows are some of the most vulnerable and visible victims of floods. Their short legs and big buoyant bellies full of gas mean that any moving water can float them away from the safety of their farms if they’re not moved to higher ground early enough. Horses are also high risk.

That in-built floatation device has an upside though. It can enable them to stay alive in floodwaters long enough to be rescued or find dry ground. Even if it’s a beach. Or someone’s home. Attaching a halter and hauling them to safety is often the best approach. Just keeping that head above water is crucial. The “Mid North Coast horse/livestock flood recovery” page has been created on facebook to help people in the flood affected regions locate any animals that might be missing.

Our wildlife also suffer immense and heartbreaking losses. Particularly the ground dwelling and burrowing animals. Wombats and echidnas along with reptiles and other small mammals are at the top of the list of the most vulnerable as they just have nowhere to go. Any refuges from the floodwaters like islands, rafts or even debris are potential rescue sites. But should only be accessed by trained emergency workers due to the dangers present.

If there is an upside, it’s that flood waters do also create habitats and an environment for fish and birds to survive and breed in places like the Murray Darling Basin.

Please stay safe out there and keep an eye out for animals needing a helping hand…

📷: Oscar Watson-Sutherland

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