Enormous wildfires have been raging across Australia since September. According to CNET, at least 20 people have died, over 1,500 homes have been destroyed, and 28 people are confirmed missing. The fires have been especially prevalent in tourist areas, and mandatory evacuations are driving people from their homes. The toll on human habitats have been enormous, but the scale of destruction for Australia’s wildlife has been mind-boggling.
The continent is home to hundreds of species that can’t be found anywhere else on the planet, and many of the fires are taking place in the brush and eucalyptus forests where these animals make their homes. Ecologists from the University of Sydney have estimated that up to 480 million animals may have died in the wildfires, in particular decimating the koala population. Videos of New South Wales, where the fire is currently raging, show the destruction:
Gut wrenching scene from New South Wales of dead animals along the roadside. The bushfires are a climate change-fueled ecological disaster. We should not look away pic.twitter.com/RLLN0tk9lT
— Brian Kahn (@blkahn) January 5, 2020
There are about 3,000 firefighters on the ground fighting back the flames on a daily basis, as well as relief efforts to support evacuees. For the animals, there’s the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, amongst other organizations, trying to provide aid to injured wildlife.
Bindi Irwin, daughter of famous zoologist Steve Irwin, posted on Instagram that this week, the zoo rehabilitated its 90,000th patient, though she has also written about the ones who didn’t make it:
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Blossom the possum was admitted to the #AustraliaZoo Wildlife Hospital after being caught in one of the bushfires burning in other parts of Queensland. We have such an incredible team who work day and night to protect gorgeous animals like Blossom. Devastatingly this beautiful girl didn’t make it even after working so hard to save her life. I want to thank you for your kind words and support. This is the heart-wrenching truth, every day is a battle to stand up and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. Now more than ever we need to work together to make a difference and protect our Mother Earth. For more on how you can become a Wildlife Warrior visit www.wildlifewarriors.org 💙🙏🏼
She explained that the uptick in animal patients began in September:
Our @AustraliaZoo Wildlife Hospital takes in animals from all over Australia. Hundreds of grey-headed flying foxes, a species listed as vulnerable, have been flown to Queensland after the rescue centre they were recovering in was at risk from fire and evacuated. Some of the orphans are now being cared for by the team at the hospital until they’re big enough to go home, and there’s no threat of fire.
In September, flying fox admissions to the hospital skyrocketed by over 750% due to drought conditions and lack of food. Flying foxes are now being drastically affected by wildfires and we’re again seeing an influx of these beautiful animals from across the country.
Bindi writes that they’ve also opened a sea turtle rehabilitation center, a sea snake ward and are finishing a new bird recovery area, but warns it’s not enough to keep up.
View this post on Instagram
Our @AustraliaZoo Wildlife Hospital takes in animals from all over Australia. Hundreds of grey-headed flying foxes, a species listed as vulnerable, have been flown to Queensland after the rescue centre they were recovering in was at risk from fire and evacuated. Some of the orphans are now being cared for by the team at the hospital until they’re big enough to go home, and there’s no threat of fire. 🦇 In September, flying fox admissions to the hospital skyrocketed by over 750% due to drought conditions and lack of food. Flying foxes are now being drastically affected by wildfires and we’re again seeing an influx of these beautiful animals from across the country. This week, we treated our 90,000th patient. To cope with so many animals being admitted to the hospital, in 2019 we opened a sea turtle rehabilitation centre, sea snake ward and are about to complete a new bird recovery area, but it’s still not enough to keep up. We need to build a new ward for our patients. Wildlife Warriors from around the world are asking how they can help us save native wildlife, you can donate on our website www.wildlifewarriors.org , or support our fundraiser to start construction of our newest ward by visiting the link in my bio! 💚
Irwin is raising money for this new ward and continuing to share stories about the suffering of animals in Australia. Nothing that is happening to their planet is their fault and they need care in this desperate time.
Here are just some of the organizations and volunteer services you can donate to in order to help aid in firefighting and recovery efforts:
- Australia’s Red Cross Disaster relief and recovery fund helps support evacuation centers and recovery programs for affected communities
- The Country Fire Authority is the state of Victoria’s rural firefighting service
- The RSPCA bushfire appeal is used to protect the pets, livestock, and wildlife affected by bushfires. They help evacuate animals from disaster zones.
- The World Wildlife Fund is accepting donations to help support conservation, particularly koala conservation. Your money can help provide emergency care during bushfires.
- Wires is an Australia wildlife rescue organization