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How Comvita Manuka Honey Is Helping Australian Wildlife Affected By Bushfires

This article is an excerpt republished with permission from Saving The Wild, a non-profit organization dedicated to animal welfare and preventing the extinction of vital species. To date, Comvita has donated around 1,500 units of medical-grade Manuka Honey Medihoney® Antibacterial Wound Gel™ products to rescue groups across Australia’s affected areas. This Manuka Honey, often used in hospitals, is being used to treat burns and wounds on a range of wildlife.


Saving the Wild Director Jamie Joseph is currently in Australia, travelling around the country in a van packed full of supplies, distributing this life saving manuka to wildlife centres caring for injured and burnt survivors.


“I’ve seen the extraordinary results we have had with our poaching survivors when vets in Africa use manuka, and so I knew if I could get it to the survivors in Australia we could really make a difference.” - Jamie Joseph, founder of Saving The Wild.

Report from the Field, by Saving The Wild’s Jamie Joseph

I had touched down in Sydney one week earlier with a mission to deliver Comvita manuka honey medical supplies to vets and wildlife carers across Australia. I run the Africa based environmental organization Saving the Wild, and I had seen in the survivors of the poaching crisis that manuka honey has exceptional antibacterial wound healing properties. I thought because I had spent so many years in the presence of savagely butchered elephants and rhinos that I was mentally strong enough to handle the carnage in Australia, but nothing could prepare me for the massive scale of destruction, and the misappropriation of funds and resources.


Over a billion animals lost in Australia’s fires is the number dominating the headlines. That figure is rising beyond comprehension. Now with horrific habitat loss and the ever-present drought, the survivors are starving, while others run the gauntlet of cars in search of food, only to be knocked down before reaching greener pastures. During the first week living out of a van and travelling across New South Wales, I soon realized that the wildlife charity with the biggest marketing budget had suddenly been swamped with millions of dollars in donations, whilst other dedicated groups on the ground ran ragged – with no time for social media, eat or sleep. And so I decided to focus on helping those who needed it most.


One of so many stories that illustrate this is that of husband and wife team, Professor Steve Garlick, who specializes in animal ethics and the treatment of PTSD, and his partner Dr Rosemary Austen, a general practitioner. The caretakers of Possumwood Wildlife Sanctuary, they have dedicated the last 21 years of their lives to saving more than 6000 animals. Rosemary works four days a week as a GP to cover most of the $80,000 annual budget needed to care for their rescues. They had over 100 kangaroos on their land when I visited, and she knew every one of them as individuals. Depending on the severity of the injuries, there were outside free-roaming areas, while those needing intensive care were monitored inside the house.


I sat on the floor with a roo stretched out on the sofa beside me, too weak to lift his head, while another found the strength to hobble across the room, all four feet wrapped in bandages. I felt my heart sink every time she fell down, before she eventually reached me and rested her head on mine.

From all that I have learned during my two weeks on the frontline is that we are absolutely unprepared for the next climate disaster. Not just Australia, but the world. Next time it could be Africa, or America, or India. We can pounce on roos and koalas, and rush them off to vets, but we sure as hell can’t pounce on rhinos and lions, bears, or tigers.

Fight the good fight. And never, ever give up.

The Project