Since September, Australia has been struggling to cope with the worst wildfires the continent has experienced in decades. These lethal fires are only likely to get even more dangerous, given how hot January and February are expected to be. And just as prevention and relief efforts for humans are vitally important, there are also ways to
help Australian animals who are threatened by the wildfires.
CNN reports that
at least 18 people have died in the bushfires, over 900 homes have been destroyed, and the death toll is even more intense for non-human animals. Ecologists based at the University of Sydney estimate that almost half a billion animals have been killed by the fires since September. Around 8,000 koalas have been killed, wiping out 30% of the koala population in New South Wales, ABC Radio reports. Thousands of birds, including sulfur-crested cockatoos, have reportedly been falling out of the sky, killed by the intensity of heat stress and smoke.
Amid this devastation, the Australian government being criticized for not
curbing its use of coal, which is used for over 60% of the country’s electricity. Even though rapidly phasing out the use of coal is vital to curbing the rising dangers of climate change, Australia’s position as the world’s largest coal exporter is said to put both its humans and its wildlife at risk. As bushfires continue to burn with no signs of slowing, trying to save lives at this moment has become a top priority. There are ways to offer assistance to humans affected by the bushfires, but if you’re also looking to contribute to animal safety, here are four ways you can help Australian animals. Alberto Mazza/robertharding/Collection Mix: Subjects/Getty Images
Australia's largest wildlife rescue organization, WIRES (New South Wales Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service Inc.), is actively seeking emergency donations to increase its capacity to
help animals in the midst of the bushfires. According to their website, WIRES receives between 600 and 1,000 calls every day asking for assistance rescuing or caring for sick, injured, or orphaned animals.
If you're safe but in the area and are noticing animals who are trying to escape the fires, WIRES cautions against attempting to assist the creatures directly without proper training. But, if you do come across an
injured animal that you can safely bring to the nearest vet, WIRES asks that you don't feed the animal, but try to wrap it loosely in cotton fabric during transport. The rescue organization also recommends leaving out shallow bowls of water for fleeing birds and animals.
Donate To The World Wildlife Fund
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is responding to the
state of emergency in New South Wales by asking people to donate to their relief efforts. When the bushfires clear, the devastated areas will need to be carefully restored if they are to be made habitable again. The WWF is preparing to restore homes and care for injured wildlife, which will include providing emergency aid and continuing advocacy efforts to try and prevent these kinds of catastrophes. Simone Celeste/Moment/Getty Images
Port Macquarie Koala Hospital in New South Wales has been overwhelmed by the number of koala injuries and deaths during the bushfires. To aid in their relief efforts, you can contribute to a GoFundMe campaign to rescue koalas by rehydrating them and treating their burns in the hospital. Your donation will also go toward the purchase of a water carrying vehicle to help bring water to drinking stations dispersed throughout the affected areas.
Whether you're on the continent itself or on the other side of the world, there are ways you can
contribute to the relief effort. Even in the midst of such devastation, you can help people and animals across Australia.