The animal population in Australia is without a doubt special. Many of its best-known species, including kangaroos and koalas, are native to the country, and many animals are not found in other countries outside of zoos.
Shockingly there is no clear end in sight. The forest fires, experts say, can take months. As we indicate in ourhot and dry conditions in Australia last until April, which does not help the situation. But you can. Numerous charities work around the clock to save Australia's beloved animals. We will continue to update this post if circumstances change and news breaks.
How many animals are involved?
This question will never have a definitive answer, but even the estimates are amazing. Unlike humans, animals do not have a birth certificate or other ways to follow them accurately. But on January 8, the University of Sydney ecologist Chris Dickman offered a horrific new estimate of the number of animals killed in the forest fires.
Dickman estimates that more than a billion animals have been killed throughout Australia, with 800 million deaths in the worst case only the state of New South Wales. Early estimates only include mammals, birds and reptiles, but Dickman notes that once the population of insects, bats and frogs is added, a billion starts to look like a low estimate.
The World Wide Fund for Nature, or WWF (known in the US and Canada) Dickman & # 39; s figures used to make his own sobering estimate that 1.25 billion animals may have been killed directly or indirectly by the fires.
A recent report in the New York Times notes that some experts are "doubtful" about the numbers. There is, of course, limited access to the burned areas, and the death toll is not achieved by counting individual animals, but by multiplying the number of animals expected to live in a given area by the total burnt area.
Which animals are affected?
So many different species, from cattle to insects, have been affected by the fires. There is no way to graph which populations have been hit the hardest, but statistics on some of the different animals are starting to appear.
Koala & # 39; s
The images of injured koalas, long a favorite animal of many and an Australian icon, have dominated worldwide media coverage. Terri Irwin, widow of the famous naturalist Steve Irwin, told the Australian morning program Sunrise that the natural instincts and habitats of the koala work against them. "Koala instinct is to go upstairs, because safety is at the top of the tree," Irwin said. "Eucalyptus trees have so much oil that they ignite and actually explode in a fire."
Again, figures are hard to find, but the news is not good. Aoff the south coast of Australia shows that a third of the island is now covered with burns or active fires. Ecologists in Flinders Chase National Park estimate that 25,000 koalas – half of the island's population – have been killed.
Steve Irwin & # 39; s daughter Bindi Irwin has recently posted about another species that has been affected.
"Hundreds of flying gray-headed foxes, a species listed as vulnerable, flew to Queensland after the rescue center where they recovered was at risk of fire and was evacuated," Irwin said. "Some orphans are now cared for by the team at the zoo animal hospital until they are big enough to go home and there is no longer a fire hazard."
She notes that flying foxes are also affected by other problems, and back in September, shots of flying foxes at the zoo hospital "shot up by more than 750% due to drought and lack of food."
CBS News from CNET reported on January 7 that 5,000 to 10,000 wild camels are being shot in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara countries (AYP) of South Australia. Although clearing camels is not as directly related to fires as other animal deaths, officials say the animals endanger people by drinking too much water as a drought and the fires make it an even more costly product.
The Ministry of Environment and Water told CBS that thousands of camels were flowing to tanks, faucets, and other available water sources in local communities. The news was so shocking urban-legend site Snopes.com has even added a page about the wild camel cull, it dubbed true.
Farm animals are also helpless in the face of the fires. On January 5, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported that thousands of farm animals burned in the fires had been euthanized, and the country was racing at & # 39; hundreds of thousands & # 39; to bury bodies to combat & # 39; an emergency in biosecurity & # 39;  Agriculture minister Bridget McKenzie has offered 100 veterinarians to affected areas to assess and euthanize injured animals, ABC reports.
ABC photojournalist Matt Roberts made video of the drive to Batlow, a rural town southwest of Sydney, with a population of less than 1,500. Batlow was on the edge of a large fire front that tore through the city in early January, and Roberts' video shows the devastation it caused. Charred remains of cattle lined the road to the city.
How can I help?
News of the fires is constantly changing and moving fast, and not everything on Facebook or Twitter is accurate. In just one example, an image of Australia was made to show all areas that have been affected by fires as a NASA image so far. As a result, many thought that all fires shown on the map – some of which are no longer burning – were currently burning. Keep track of where your information comes from and use the same kind of common sense when planning a donation.
- Koala & # 39; s are a focus for donations to the WWF. Although many koalas survive, they need trees, and many have burned down. Once the fires have disappeared, the WWF hopes to plant 10,000 much-needed trees in what is called the "koala triangle" between southwest Sydney, Gunnedah and Noosa. The group also lists what different donations will do for the koala & $ 39; s – $ 50 for tree planting efforts, $ 75 for food and medicine, etc.
- WIRES Wildlife Rescue, the largest wildlife rescue organization of Australia is based on the harsh New South Wales, and has a popular Facebook fund-raising page that you may have seen. (WIRES stands for Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service.) WIRES volunteers go to the burned areas after it is safe to do this and save what animals they can, although some are so badly injured that they need to be euthanized.
- You can also donate to Zoos Victoria & # 39; s bushfire emergency wildlife fund, which uses donations to fund veterinary assistance and scientific intervention.
- The famous Irwin family runs the Australia Zoo in Queensland. The parents of the late Steve Irwin founded the zoo as a small reptile and fauna park. Steve himself grew up to help there, and it is now owned by his American-born widow, Terri. The zoo's animal hospital accepts donations and plans to build a department for flying foxes that have been hit hard by the fires.
- The RSPCA of New South Wales works on evacuating animals in endangered areas and travels to burned landscapes to rescue and treat the wounded. The site notes that donations keep the group inspectors on the road to respond to emergencies and help animals in need. the fires, and so far have brought 31 to the hospital. The group collects money via a Go Fund Me page.
- The destruction in the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park has made headlines around the world . The group raises money via a Go Fund Me page for help with veterinary costs, koala milk and supplements, additional reception and rehabilitation housing and more.
- The Animal Rescue Collective is a joint project of numerous rescue groups in Australia. The group's Facebook page keeps followers informed of what the different groups are doing and what they should help with.
- The small town of Mallacoota in Victoria has just over 1,000 inhabitants, but it is exactly at the heart of the fire destruction. A Go Fund Me page that raised money for its animal shelter started with a goal of $ 10,000, but is now rising to $ 81,000 and continues to rise.
Collecting money for people and more
While the animal population certainly needs it, ourlists numerous ways that you can donate to other causes. Auctions, fundraisers, concerts and other activities and groups help raise money for firefighters, provide emergency housing, deliver food to displaced persons and much more.
Originally published on January 8.