Australia's Fires Are Devastating The Koala Population. Here's How You Can Help.

by Caroline Burke
Nathan Edwards/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The wildfires in Australia have continued to burn aggressively into 2020, and it's not just the human population of Australia that needs help. The nation's wildlife has been catastrophically damaged by the fires, with ecologists from the University of Sydney estimating that at least half a billion animals have been killed since the fires started months ago. Among those increasingly at risk are wild koalas. In fact, the koala population is at risk of being wiped out from these fires — so if you want to help save the koalas in Australia, you need to act now.

According to The Telegraph, there are several koala populations that have been completely or significantly exterminated from the wildfires. This includes the koala population on Kangaroo Island, which was the country's only disease-free population of koalas, per The Guardian.

Of course, the most important thing you can do to help save the koalas is to contribute to efforts to end the wildfires in Australia. But there are plenty of organizations working specifically toward koala rehabilitation and care that deserve your attention, if you're especially worried about these adorable animals. Here are some easy ways to help save the koalas in Australia, even if you live halfway across the globe:

Donate To Koala Rehabilitation Centers, Hospitals, And Wildlife Parks

One of the most immediate and important things you can do to help save koalas in Australia is to donate to koala hospitals, wildlife parks, and rehabilitation centers. There are a number of GoFundMe accounts currently dedicated to this effort — and though many of them have already surpassed their goals, you might want to read about how they're using these funds before you decide not to donate.

For example, the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park is using its extra funds to provide medical aid to injured koalas, and also to build more enclosures so that it can house a greater number of animals as soon as possible. Another great fundraiser is for the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, which is using its surplus of funding to establish a wild koala breeding program, in addition to its regular efforts.

Adopt A Koala

A great way to help save koalas in Australia is to "adopt" one — and no, that doesn't actually mean getting a pet koala. It just means you pay a small fee that goes to the care and rehabilitation of a wild koala in Australia. In exchange, you usually get a certificate with the info for your koala.

Organizations like the World Wildlife Fund offer a general koala adoption program for $55, and hospitals like the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital are offering virtual adoption programs as well. Fair warning, though: Port Macquarie hospital has noted that the high demand for koala adoptions is slowing down the process, so you might have to be patient and revisit the site for new opportunities. And in the meantime, you can just donate to the hospital in general so that you're still helping the cause.

Support Australian Fire Services

Supporting any and all Australian fire services is a direct way to help wild koalas, because firefighters are often the only people in a position to get koalas out of a burning forest. There are a number of fire services you can donate to, including the NSW Rural Fire Service, SA Country Fire Service, Tasmania Fire Service, Western Australia Fire Service, and more.

Plant A Koala Food Tree

It's not just the koalas that need saving; it's their habitat that's being destroyed, too. That's why it's so helpful to donate money toward planting new koala food trees and toward rehabilitating Australian land in general. You can plant a koala food tree through a number of organizations, including Port Macquarie Hospital and the Australian Koala Foundation.

Spread Information To Friends And Family

Beyond donating, a great thing to do is to spread the word about what's going on in Australia. You, too, should stay up to date on the Australia wildfires, and hold onto stats that illuminate just how devastating the natural disaster has been so far.

For example, as of early January, the wildfires have moved through three states, burned millions of acres of land, claimed at least 24 lives, and destroyed thousands of homes, per NBC News. Additionally, according to The Telegraph, at least 25,000 koalas are believed to have died in the fires.

Support Australian Wildlife Preservation Organizations

Though the hope is to contain these fires as soon as possible, there's another reality on the horizon that many organizations are likely already preparing for: what happens after. You can support Australian wildlife organizations, like WIRES and Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief & Recovery, so that they have the funds necessary to take care of Australian wildlife, including koalas, right now and in the years to come. You can also learn more about how to help Australia wildfire victims.