While the images of singed rescued koalas have dominated media attention, many other species are impacted by the Australian fires. Grey-headed flying foxes; platypuses; kangaroos; wallabies; quokkas; northern and southern hairy-nosed wombats; brushtail possums; sugar, greater and feathertail gliders; and southern boobook owls and many other unique imperiled bird species are now at even greater risk. The immediate threat of the fires has passed for this season, but the loss of habitat and food sources will make it difficult for these rare species to recover. Long-term habitat restoration will be necessary to prevent their extinction.
With an estimated loss of at least 1 billion wild animals, Australia is feeling the devastation of climate chaos firsthand. Here in the United States, we had a taste of these impacts with recent California wildfires. Wildfire is a natural process, and key to vital ecosystem functions. Many trees and other plants require wildfire for germination or reproduction. However, these recent wildfires differ from the natural fire cycle: They are fed by years of drought, poor management practices allowing for fuel buildup, and climate change. Fires that burn extremely hot permanently damage the soil, and plant and animal species that normally would survive a fast-moving wildfire do not.
AWI has contributed funds and is passing on donations earmarked for Australian wildlife rescue and recovery to the Balu Blue Foundation, which itself passes funds to smaller wildlife rehabilitation organizations and individuals who care for wildlife. We have also donated to Adelaide and Hills Koala Rescue, Goongerah Wombat Orphanage, Warriors for Wildlife, and Wildlife Victoria in an effort to spread support across various impacted geographies. Recovery from the impacts of the fires and the floods that followed will require ongoing support. One hundred percent of donations you make to AWI and designate as “for Australia” will go to Australian rescue organizations.