How to help koalas hurt and homeless from Australia’s bushfires is a question we’ve been asked by readers in recent days. There are a handful of options for helping Australia’s koalas that we recommend, from donating funds to koala hospitals and wildlife organisations to knitting mittens for their burnt paws.
A heart-wrenching video of a brave Australian woman rescuing a koala from the bushfires currently ravaging eastern Australia recently went viral capturing people’s hearts the world over. If you haven’t seen the video, the courageous woman, Toni Doherty, takes off her shirt and runs in her bra through the burning forest to rescue the singed koala from fast-moving flames.
Out of harms way, Toni sets the distressed koala down on the ground, douses the wailing fella with water from a few drinking bottles, and gives the distraught little guy a drink. She bundles him up in a blanket and hands him over to an emergency worker who took the koala to Port Macquarie’s koala hospital.
If you saw the video you’ll understand why some 42,000 people from more than 90 countries donated over $1.8 million to the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital’s GoFundMe campaign. The small clinic in the New South Wale coastal holiday town, which has been treating dozens of hurt and homeless koalas, had originally hoped to raise just $25,000 to pay for wildlife drinking stations.
Grateful for the tremendous generosity of donors – the money raises represents a GoFundMe record – the hospital will use the excess funds to support a koala-breeding programme, following the deaths of hundreds of koalas in fires in Port Macquarie and other areas, where koala habitats have been devastated by the bushfires still blazing across Australia.
Sadly, Lewis, the koala that Toni rescued, didn’t survive. The hospital made the tough decision to euthanase Lewis as he struggled to overcome his excessive burns and injuries. However, there are hundreds of other koalas hurt and homeless from Australian bushfires that need your help, along with other wildlife.
UPDATE: 9/12/19 Along with Australia’s wildlife, Australian people, both firefighters and evacuees, could do with a hand and we’ve added details for how you can help below. As an Australian who grew up in Sydney but was the grand-daughter of farmers it’s been heartbreaking to see images from afar of my hometown shrouded in smoke, and the bushland I adore in flames.
It’s also been infuriating watching Australia’s federal and state government leaders do nothing to help Australians, their land, the domestic animals that produce Australia’s wonderful food, and Australia’s wildlife, when a national emergency should be declared, and should probably have been declared months ago when before the bushfires Australia was being devastated by drought.
Australia’s leadership vacuum and the governments’ lack of action on the climate crisis, drought, and now bushfires, have been noticed around the world. Surely it’s time that Australians in Sydney and other cities don their gas masks and take to the streets to urge their governments to do more to their fellow Australians and our sunburnt parched and scorched country?
How to Help Koalas Hurt and Homeless from Australian Bushfires
The recent distressing images of scorched and incinerated koalas have resulted in news reports that the marsupials are “functionally extinct” as a result of the latest bushfires in Australia, but it’s worth noting that koalas have been under threat since well before the recent bushfires.
Research has long predicted that Australia’s iconic koalas will be extinct by 2050 if land clearing, and the resulting loss of koala habitat in New South Wales, continues at the current alarming rate. Scientists are now questioning whether the species will survive that long with the dramatically changing climate that resulted in the early start to a very extreme bushfire season.
Most koalas on the east coast of Australia live within the ‘Koala Triangle’, where it’s thought the species could be extinct in 30 years if fires continue to rage through the area. The prolonged drought has also impacted koala populations. Koalas primarily eat the leaves of eucalyptus trees, from which they also get water. The lack of rain this year has meant less foliage for them to feed upon and an increasing number of dehydrated and hungry koalas, which have been dying in the high heat.
It’s not only the cute-as-a-button koalas that have been impacted. Other treasured Australian wildlife, such as kangaroos, have also perished in this year’s bushfires, which have been some of the worst Australia has experienced and so catastrophic that a state of emergency was declared in my home-state of New South Wales.
Australians have also been affected. Since July 2019, six lives have been lost, over 670 homes and 1,400 other buildings have been destroyed, and two million hectares have been burnt in more than 7,000 fires.
Here’s how to help koalas hurt and homeless from Australian bushfires – along with other Australian wildlife and Australians affected by the bushfires.
How to Help Koalas And Other Wildlife Impacted by Australian Bushfires
Donate to Koala Hospitals
While the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, which cared for Lewis, said it doesn’t need more donations, it’s encouraging people to support other local koala hospitals and koala carers. Port Stephens Koalas currently needs donations, as does Koalas in Care and the Pine Rivers Koala Care Association.
Donate to the World Wildlife Fund Australia
The World Wildlife Fund Australia is accepting donations for their koala campaign. When the fires are stopped in that Koala Triangle on the East coast of Australia that I mentioned above, they plan to go in to restore the habitat that has been lost. You can make a one-off donation – A$15 provides bandages and medicine for an injured koala, $20 could help prepare a koala for release back into the wild, $30 could go toward planting a tree corridor between threatened koala habitats, while $50 could support efforts to urge governments to stop excessive tree clearing – or you can adopt an animal, including adopting a koala, which makes a great Christmas gift. The special koala adoption gift pack includes a cuddly plus koala toy, koala fact book, adoption certificate, tote bag, Living Planet magazine, and WWF sticker.
Donate to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital
Donate to the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital Foundation, which supports and funds Currumbin Wildlife Hospital at Currumbin Sanctuary on the Gold Coast. One of the busiest wildlife hospitals in the world, they tree over 11,000 animals a year, including rehabilitating and releasing sick, injured and orphaned native wildlife. (Terence took the images above at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, where we did their VIP koala experience, during a weekend on the Gold Coast.)
Help the Rescue Craft Collective
If you can sew, knit or are generally good at making things, follow the Rescue Craft Collective on Facebook. They are coordinating efforts by community groups and individuals to make mittens, pouches, wraps, blankets, birds’ nests, and hanging baskets for koalas, kangaroos, possums, bats, and other Australian wildlife affected by the bushfires. You can visit the page and respond to requests to make stuff, pick up and drop off things, or you can advertise your own services.
How to Help Australians Affected by Australian Bushfires
It’s not only Australian wildlife that has been impacted by the bushfires, Australians have lost homes, properties have been damaged, and communities have been devastated, and Australian governments are not doing enough to help. Here are the main groups supporting Australians, which are accepting donations.
NSW Rural Fire Service
With some 150 fires burning in New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland, Australian firefighters, most of whom are volunteer firefighters, are exhausted and the communities that support the local volunteer bushfire brigades are stretched. You can donate on this link to the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) or donate directly to a local RFS brigade by credit card or bank transfer.
The Australian Red Cross
The Australian Red Cross is operating evacuation centres that are helping communities in NSW, Queensland and South Australia that are affected by the current bushfires. Their volunteers provide practical support, such as food and water, as well as ‘psychological first aid’, assisting evacuees to get in touch with families, friends and neighbours, and maintain a register to help unite people and communities that have lost everything. You can donate to the Red Cross on the link above, with a quick phone call, at a Commonwealth Bank if you’re in Australia, or online on the link above.
The Salvation Army
Like the Australian Red Cross, the Salvation Army, which has had a long experience in assisting Australians during emergencies such as these, runs evacuation centres where they provide food and water, shelter and clothing, as well as practical help and emotional support to both firefighters as well as people evacuated from their burning homes and communities under threat. You can donate here to the bushfire disaster appeal that is currently underway to help evacuees and emergency services.
If you have any other ideas for how to help koalas hurt and homeless from Australian bushfires – along with other Australian wildlife and Australians affected by the bushfires feel free to leave details in the comments below.