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Wildlife carers cling to hope after fires

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Qantas, an orphaned Eastern Grey Kangaroo joey whose feet were burned in recent bushfires, is held by WIRES Carer Kevin Clapson at his property in East Lynne, South of Sydney, Tuesday, January 14, 2020. (AAP Image/Steven Saphore) 

Wildlife carer Kevin Clapson says his scorched property on NSW's south coast used to look like a scene from a David Attenborough documentary.

"We had possums and koalas, wombats and wallabies and goannas. All sorts of animals," he told AAP this week.

"Now you're lucky to see a few kangaroos."

Mr Clapson, who volunteers for the WIRES wildlife charity with wife Lorita, has been working without power or phone reception to fix the bushfire-damaged enclosures on his nine-hectare block in East Lynne.

"We saved the house and the sheds but we lost the back of the kangaroo nursery, all the bush around us was burnt badly and the wombat enclosure was also damaged," he said.

"I had to work quickly. We've got too many animals to care for."

One of the injured animals Mr Clapson and Lorita have taken in is a young kangaroo joey they've called Qantas.

"The mother's instinct is to drop the joey and he's tried to run to keep with her and been burnt very badly," Mr Clapson said.

"We thought he had second-degree burns but they were actually third-degree. We managed to save him and he's been improving every day."

WIRES volunteer Janet Jones has been nursing injured bats on her Tuross Head property and walks around the house with injured flying-fox bats clinging to her shirt.

"I had one bat who was extremely damaged by the ember attack from the bushfires. Their body was OK but the wing membranes were like parchment," she told AAP.

"I could hear the wing crunching while I wrapped it.

"I just walk around with them attached to my husband's old shirts. The little ones love cuddles."

Both Mr Clapson and Mrs Jones have grave concerns about animals surviving the fires only to die of starvation.

"There's no feed for these guys. The ones that made it through the fire are starving," Mr Clapson said.

"A few days of drizzle have turned the road edges green and the poor buggers are getting bowled over by cars because they're coming out trying to find something to eat."

Wombat carer Tony De La Fosse hasn't taken in any bushfire orphans yet but says it's only a matter of time.

"We need to look after them and restore the areas where populations have been badly affected," he told AAP.

The fires have been an "absolute disaster" for wildlife, Mrs Jones said.

"Every form of wildlife is radically affected. What we are concerned about is where are they going to go," she said.

"We don't know where they can go to survive with the food supplies so limited."

© AAP 2020