A woman who has donated her land to create a shelter for animals injured by Australian bushfires has come under attack by wildlife warriors.
Samantha Baring has been forced to pull her charity Noahs Ark Newstead off Facebook amid a tidal wave of abuse from operators of rival animal shelters.
The former logistics expert, who worked for 10 years with indigenous Australians, told Daily Mail Australia she had been shocked by the amount of vile abuse aimed at her over her efforts to help injured animals.
Samantha Baring has been forced to pull her charity Noahs Ark Newstead off Facebook amid a tidal wave of abuse from operators of rival animal shelters
Images of hurt koalas posted on the Noahs Ark Newstead Facebook page before it was shut down. The images caused mountains of abuse amid claims they were being used to manipulate the public
Charity director Samantha Baring posted a message on Facebook to her haters before closing the page down
Much of the abuse has centered on Ms Baring’s open admissions that she has no experience whatsoever in caring for native wildlife.
‘I’ve never claimed to know how to look after wildlife. I’ve never claimed to have any certificates or degree or anything else,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
‘I’m just a person with 10 acres who is giving those 10 acres up for a good thing.’
The property, situated just northwest of Melbourne, has been set-up with six paddocks and 15 pens for dogs and other small animals.
Much of the abuse aimed at Ms Baring has centred on the charity’s use of images of injured koalas, with pink bandages wrapped around their paws.
The charity’s haters have also slammed the location of the property, which is about a five-hour drive from Victoria’s Gippsland fires.
Others have criticised Ms Baring after she directed haters to a lawyer, who had helped the charity free-of-charge.
‘There’s going to be no kangaroos or koalas coming out of Gippsland – none,’ Ms Baring said.
‘But we want to be compliant when we do have a fire nearby that we can take wildlife. It’s all about being compliant and working with these government bodies.’
Ms Baring said the images used by the charity were all taken from animals impacted by Australian bushfires.
‘It’s not a con. It’s a registered charity. I can’t do anything more than register it … the images I’ve used are images from the bushfires. That’s all I can say. I don’t need to mislead anyone. ‘
Ms Baring said the charity had employed two fully qualified wildlife carers, who would have the job of caring for native animals when the property begins taking them in.
‘Not just these bushfires but we’ve got to plan for the next 10 years,’ Ms Baring said. ‘We’re working with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.’
Samantha Baring has hit back at online trolls who forced her to close down a Facebook page dedicated to her charity
Samantha Baring’s business has also been targeted by online trolls.
Animals impacted by the recent fires, including cattle, sheep and dogs, are expected to begin arriving at the property shortly, Ms Baring said.
‘We go to Gippsland tomorrow to talk to people. We are as compliant as we can be. The charity started on the 7th of January,’ she said. ‘It’s very, very early days and it’s incredibly difficult and it’s hurtful. Who says we’re not going to have a fire on our doorstep?’
Ms Baring acknowledged the work being done by volunteers to help animals caught-up in the current bushfire disaster.
‘We’re new on the block and we are just copping it,’ she said. ‘We’re working with the shire to get the permit for the dogs. We are ticking every box but when you work with all these departments you can’t get anything done very quickly.’
The charity held a dinner last Saturday night which raised $1705 and another $3500 through an online fundraiser.
‘Mentally, it’s really cruel what they’re doing,’ Ms Baring said.
The online abuse against the charity director has escalated in recent days, with some trolls targeting Ms Baring’s beauty products shop.
‘They’ve used an image of me. They’ve accused me of fraud and it’s defamation,’ Ms Baring said.
Despite the hate campaign against her, Ms Baring said she had no plans to succumb to the abuse.
‘We will continue. We’ve had over 150 people donate their time to come up here and help with building it … We’ve got a really strong committee with really serious people on it. All I can do is be strong,’ she said.
Ms Baring said her experience working in indigenous employment had helped prepare her mentally for the abuse.
While most of the attacks have appeared online, some haters have called-up Ms Baring to abuse her over the phone.
An image of an injured koala posted on the charity’s Facebook page before it was closed down
Samantha Baring said she did not expect to see any injured koalas from the Gippsland fires to be brought to her property
‘An extraordinary woman just started abusing me down the phone. Saying that I was a scammer, that I was taking money illegally. And the language … I have never heard language like it.
‘I’m not a con-merchant or anything else,’ Ms Baring said. “I’ve given over $15,000 of my own money for this. It hurts. It really hurts.’
Ms Baring said she could not have been more transparent and had provided publicly her mobile phone number, email address and website details.
‘We had a public meeting last week where 30 people came and walked around and saw what we’re doing. It is a private property and I will let people come in if they make an appointment,’ she said.
Ms Baring said she had moved to the property nine weeks ago with the plan to build an olive grove.
‘I managed the material aid warehouse for Lindsay Fox after (Black Saturday) for six months, so I’ve got quite a lot of experience working with people who are traumatised and lose everything through bushfires,’ she said. ‘I was just sitting on my sofa and thought “What can I do?’