During the video call, The Duke of Cambridge said: “It’s fantastic to hear about the community spirit in Australia as always, which is what Catherine and I see when we come down there. Aussies are very good at looking out for each other and it’s fantastic to see that you’re all pulling together.”
Approximately 48 per cent of Kangaroo Island was affected by bushfires over the course of several weeks, leading to the loss of two lives and significant damage to residents’ homes and livelihoods.
Last week, The Duke and Duchess joined residents from the island via video call to hear more about how they were impacted by the fires, and the steps they are taking to begin to rebuild their lives.
Captain Mike Swayne, who spent five weeks fighting the fires as a volunteer for the South Australian Country Fire Service, explained the difficulties faced by first responders on the ground, including the weather conditions and the speed at which the fires spread.
The royal couple heard about the work of a taskforce set up by the Australian Defence Force as part of the national response, providing support to local emergency services and affected communities in South Australia.
The Duke and Duchess praised the efforts of all those who had worked to tackle the spread of the fire and protect the island’s residents in the most challenging of circumstances.
January’s bushfires also resulted in the loss of thousands of animals and widespread damage to their habitats on Kangaroo Island, which is one of Australia’s most important wildlife sanctuaries.
Wildlife park owner Dana Mitchell, who provided vital care to hundreds of animals harmed during the fires, spoke to The Duke and Duchess about how the Island’s wildlife was affected, including the devastating impact on its koala population, and the work that is being done to reintroduce rescued animals back into the wild and restore their natural habitats.