Australian wildlife is facing devastation from fires that have burned nearly 20 million acres, according to a recent report from CBS News. That’s a bigger area of land than all of West Virginia. Places like Kangaroo Island, home to koalas, kangaroos, and many rare wildlife species, have been completely ravished, displacing and killing an estimated 1 billion animals. If you’re looking for ways to specifically help kangaroos impacted by Australia’s fires, there are things you can do even if you’re all the way across the globe.
On Jan. 3, as reported by CNBC, nearly half a billion animals had died from the Australian fires. “New South Wales’s [a state on Australia’s southeastern coast] wildlife is seriously threatened and under increasing pressure from a range of threats, including land clearing, exotic pests and climate change,” Professor Chris Dickman, who works in the University of Sydney’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences, wrote in a statement for the university the same day. Just four days later, as of Jan. 7, experts now estimate that the Australian fires have killed over a billion animals, according to CBS News.
The fires, which The New York Times reported as the worst fires the country has seen to date, have also killed at least 25 people and forced towns-worth of residents to leave their homes. Australia’s biodiversity, in particular, is being threatened by the fires. A statement from World Wildlife Fund Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman notes that “many forests will take decades to recover and some species may have tipped over the brink of extinction.” Animals like the potoroo, a type of rat kangaroo, has a crucial role in keeping forest soil healthy, CNN explained. If potoroos populations are decimated by the fire, that could affect certain plant species’ ability to grow, impacting the animals who feed on those species, and so forth. The ripple effect among these ecosystems is very much real.
While a disaster of this proportion can seem hopeless, there are ways you can help, especially if you’re looking to help kangaroo populations impacted by the Australian wildfires.
Donate To Australian Wildlife Foundations
If you’re able, support through financial contributions can help get organizations the resources they need to rescue and rehabilitate kangaroos and other animals displaced and injured in the fire. Here are three organizations to support:
- WIRES, Australia's largest wildlife rescue organization: Donate here.
- RSPCA New South Wales, a not-for-profit organization caring for, treating, and protecting animals in one of the areas most devastated by the bushfire: Donate here.
- Mallacoota Wildlife Shelter Fire Relief Fund, a community-organized fund for wildlife impacted in the rural area heavily impacted by the bushfires. Donate here.
If you aren’t able to donate, sharing donation information on your social pages is a helpful way to direct people to where they can send money and resources.
Support Australian Fire Departments
Rescuing animals like kangaroo young often falls to those who are fighting the bushfires. By supporting Australian fires services, through a monetary donation or sending items they need, you are helping provide resources for them to save and protect Australian wildlife. Here are five places to support fire services throughout the country:
- New South Wales Rural Fire Service
- SA Country Fire Service
- Tasmania Fire Service
- Western Australia Fire Service
- Country Fire Authority in Victoria
Sew Pouches For Kangaroo Joeys
If you want to put your crafting ability to good use, you can join the volunteers with the Animal Rescue Craft Guild who are sewing pouches and blankets for kangaroo joeys who have been orphaned or displaced by the fires.
Volunteers are located all around the world and use the Facebook group to share tips on how to create pouches that meet animal rescue guidelines. Members also regularly share updates on which items are most needed (kangaroo joey pouches sizes XXS to XXL are currently denoted as a “very high need”) and advice on how to best ship your finished crafts. The group started off the year with about 23,000 members, according to CNN. Today, there are over 174,000 people in the group.
Keep Yourself And Others Informed
While the fire season is a typical occurrence in Australia, the current wildfires are far from normal. According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s annual climate statement, things like lengthened fire seasons, decreased precipitation, and increased temperature — all of which fuel wildfires — are in part a product of human-caused climate change.
Citizens have criticized Australian leadership, including Prime Minister Scott Morrison, on the response to the ongoing crisis as well as the leadership’s apparent avoidance of discussing climate change in the context of the fires. Make no mistake: climate change is making the Australian bushfires worse.
Seeing coverage of kangaroo carcasses and joeys with burned fur is awful and attention-grabbing, but preventing wildfires like this in the future requires understanding how they spread in the first place. To stay up-to-date on the Australian Wildfires, you can follow and support organizations like WWF-Australia, WIRES Wildlife Rescue, and RSPCA NSW.