While all the creatures are okay and the barns, house, and office, there was still damage from the wildfire late last week. Despite the catastrophic nature of the fire, thankfully, there is no catastrophe here.
The damages are limited, but will still be impactful. Due to our emergency plan and the backup systems we have in place, we were fully functioning immediately. We’ve already done a few emergency repairs that help every day feel a little closer to “normal,” although little is normal at the moment. We are looking at increased expenses and an increased workload for at least the next several weeks.
OUR WATER SYSTEM
One of the most urgent items right now are supplies for our water system. A total of 3 water tanks melted in the fire and will need to be replaced. Thankfully, our back-up water system was untouched, and our four “emergency” water storage tanks that we set up two months ago, are fine. We are using our tractor and water tanker to fill the tanks because all of the plumbing, pumps, and electric at the spring has melted and will need to be replaced. We had discussed wanting to change the electric line and bury it, and now the fire has forced our hand.
Most of our water pipes are underground. They go above ground in a few locations so we can have emergency water shutoffs and spigots. What was above-ground has melted – we estimate needing to replace 150-200 meters (500-650 feet) of water pipe. Our maintenance team is focusing on replacing that first. Our sweet weekly produce delivery person, Benedito, who doesn’t usually work weekends, delivered some replacement water pipes and valves early Saturday morning, which helped repairs immediately.
THE WOOD FENCES
The fires shifted some priorities on our ever-lengthy “To-Do” list. Outside of our water system, our most extensive repair will be near the house and office. While the elephant fencing is all steel, the fences elsewhere are not. Our garden burned – and not just the garden itself, but the fence around it that protects it from wildlife is gone. Alma, our resident blind tapir with epilepsy, lives in a fenced-in area near the house as well. Her corral is a refurbished old cow corral, which we repaired in emergency fashion when Sema asked us to take a tapir. We knew we would need to replace it at some point due to termite damage, but now the back section has burned (she is safely closed in the front section) and needs to be replaced immediately.
We also do wildlife rehabilitation and release in conjunction with our state agricultural agency. The fire destroyed the back half of the corral we use for rehab and release (no one was occupying it at the time). While the fire on our property was damaging, there are catastrophic fires a few hours from here, in the Pantanal. We recently agreed to take on some later-stage rehab and release burn patients (deer, tapirs, and possibly anteaters) from the fires in the Pantanal. The wildlife isn’t ready for us yet, as they are still receiving intensive care in clinics, but we need to prepare for their arrival. We need to prioritize replacing that fence to help those animals in dire need. If they do not come to us, the alternative location for them is a zoo.
TAKING ADVANTAGE OF LAND CLEARED BY THE FIRE FOR A BAMBOO & SUGAR CANE “GARDEN”
As a much smaller expense, in part of the area impacted by fire, we plan to begin growing bamboo and sugar cane for the elephants- also on our future to-do list, but once again, it’s silly not to take advantage of the cleared land. This will allow us to ultimately grow more food for the elephants on grounds. It will be a small area, and it will reduce costs in the long run, but in the short term, we will need to invest in the plants and time.
INCREASED SUPPLEMENTAL FEEDING FOR THE ELEPHANTS
In terms of the elephants, we are feeding additional hay to the girls, due to the extended dry season, and now damage to the palms throughout the sanctuary. Since most of the elephant habitat was untouched by fire due to our emergency plan, we don’t expect the elephant care costs to rise much, outside of an increase in supplemental feeding.
BUT EVERYTHING THAT NEEDED SAVING WAS SAVED
Usually, when we launch fundraisers, we have goals and budgets in mind. We honestly don’t know the monetary amount of damages caused in the fire at this point, but we need to focus on repairs immediately. We are already spending money, replacing and repairing our most urgent needs.
We know this is a hard time for so many, but we also know many of you are asking how you can help.
Everything that is damaged will cost money to repair or replace, but it’s all superficial. Everything that needed saving was saved, which is truly all that matters.
HOW TO DONATE TO OUR FIRE RECOVERY FUND
For those who are able to help our recovery from the wildfire, please DONATE HERE. Unless otherwise specified, all donations to our website or through Facebook for the next two weeks will go toward fire recovery.
We can’t tell you how appreciative we are for all the assistance that has poured out –Benedito’s delivery of water lines on a Saturday morning is just one example of many. Our SEB volunteers from all over Brazil have been coordinating help nonstop over the past few days. We’ve been overwhelmed by the firefighters’ kindness and the outpouring of love and support from our neighbors and sanctuary family. There has been a tremendous effort to help us. We know recovery will take a lot of time and money, but we know the land, the animals, and the organization will recover.
The video is of life continuing as normal for the elephants – Mara is scratching on a tree next to a snacking Bambi. Rana searches for treats. Lady is observing in the distance. Maia isn’t pictured, but she was off in Yard 5. We are grateful that the habitat, and the lives of our residents, were not substantially impacted.
Please know how grateful we are to all of you, our sanctuary family, for your good thoughts, wishes, and support.
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Tammy saysOctober 13, 2020 at 2:51 pm
Thank you for the updates it helps us alot knowing you all continue to receive help with this recovery. The amazing out pouring of love and support from near and far is so heartwarming but not surprising that so many have become involved with this wonderful organization which has grown by leaps and bounds and will continue to do so. Im very proud and happy to be part of this very special Sanctuary family! Love and hugs to all from Minnesota Tammy ?? ?
Kathleen Ryan saysOctober 13, 2020 at 2:58 pm
Thank You for The update.
God Bless You all.
Thank you for taking such excellent care of the Elephants.
Julie saysOctober 13, 2020 at 2:58 pm
I am happy to donate, and I have no doubt this beautiful elephant community will step up and do their part to make things whole again! By the way, that’s a great shot of Lady; it really shows how interested she really is in the others. Very hopeful!
Sallie saysOctober 13, 2020 at 3:18 pm
BIG Thank yous for the important updates and making us all aware of your potential danger from fire. I was so impressed by your details, and thought immediately of my NGO in the African Rift Valley, that I sent an immediate note to our Founder, noting questions about access to our water source plus building tanks and hoses – and backpacks for water with hoses. We go from dry to rain torrents, and Linda leaves this week for Nairobi then on to the valley. You made me think of”what if?” And I thank you for that. We are still on a learning curve, and although our wildlife – including elephants – migrate through the unfenced parts of our property, we have a mud wallow and water source for them to use. Your words are always inspiring and I take notice everyday. Asante Sana.
arie saysOctober 13, 2020 at 5:26 pm
I’m very sorry to read the damage is far worse than first thought.
I hope you can repair all the urgent things like fences and water supply systems soon, so the animals continue their lives in a secured environment.
I ‘m sorry I can’t help financially at the moment as I am a student and don’t have an income of my own. ?
But I care an awful lot and love you all ?❤️
Delia Sadler saysOctober 14, 2020 at 1:48 am
Scott – – I am so very thankful that everyone is safe – humans and animals. I am also angry at the inconsideration and thoughtlessness of your neighbor. I am hoping they will have to pay their dues (to put it nicely) since I am assuming you all were not told by your neighbors of the action they were taking. I can only imagine how flamable most of the Sanctuary is now. I’m thankful the animals really didn’t pay a lot of attention to all that was happening. Having grown up in Kentucky, know all too well how devastating fires can be anywhere near horses, especially in the barn. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone there.
Lucibda saysOctober 14, 2020 at 1:14 pm
A painless way to help if you are an Amazon shopper is to sign for GSE on Amazon Smile
Wim saysOctober 14, 2020 at 3:29 am
So special you found the time for marvelous footage and in depth damage report. Still super terrible you’ve all been hit by climate change wildfire. Thanks to everyone with a kind Elephants heart. Stay safe and everybody loves you and your amazing work.???
Rosie P saysOctober 14, 2020 at 4:16 am
It is amazing that you are getting ready to take in injured wildlife from the fires across your region, especially since the sanctuary will need recovery and repair work done, as well. There is so much hard work ahead of you. I gladly support such an incredible organisation and have just donated to the fund.
I will always walk beside you and am proud to be part of the sanctuary family.
With my love and blessings to you all. For the animals! xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Ercie saysOctober 14, 2020 at 4:25 pm
I agree. Your neighbor started the fire that burned your property. Legally aren’t they responsible for the damage. What about insurance; aren’t they insured. I know you want to stay on good terms with your neighbors, especially since some people can be vindictive and take it out on the elephant, but they should be liable.
Kat Blais saysOctober 15, 2020 at 7:33 pm
The firemen said it would be relatively impossible to prove, and they certainly aren’t going to admit to doing something illegal that could result in jail time. We have insurance, and our lawyer is dealing with the company to find out what will be covered. But like all things in Brazil, it will take some time to get any of that sorted.
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