Recent headlines have been dominated by updates about the tragic bushfires ravaging Australia. As of January 13th, 2020, 28 people and millions of wild animals had lost their lives, 3,000 homes had been destroyed, and 17.9 million acres of land had burned. It is during great tragedy, however, that we see the most inspiring side of humanity. People from all areas of the world are reaching out to help the people, animals, and ecosystems impacted by the Australian bushfires. Below are three stories that display hope in the face of great adversity.
New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service Makes it “rain carrots and sweet potatoes”
On January 12th, 2020, USA Today reported on an aerial food drop conducted by the Australian Parks service to feed brush-tailed rock-wallabies whose food sources were destroyed by fire. Over 4,600 pounds of food and water were dropped from helicopters above six colonies in New South Wales. These animals are listed as endangered in New South Wales, and while many have survived the fires, they need additional help to recover from the loss of vegetation. Environment Minister Matt Kean stated that the parks service intends to continue the food drops, along with monitoring and predator control, until food sources in the area have sufficiently recovered.
Crafters Around the World Unite to Help Rehabilitate Injured Wildlife
The Animal Rescue Craft Guild is an Australian-based Facebook group that began as a way for locals to create items from recycled materials, such as dog blankets and cat sweaters, to support animal rescue groups. As the bushfires began overwhelming wildlife, the group began to focus on crafting pouches and wraps for injured animals. Membership has now ballooned to include upwards of 200,000 crafters from all over the world who are knitting, sewing, and crocheting supplies for Australian wildlife rescue groups. The crafted items are particularly helpful for orphaned animals. For example, joey pouches allow caretakers to imitate the pouches that baby marsupials (like kangaroos and koalas) live in until they are old enough to be independent. Other items include bat wraps and knit nests that provide comfort and security to rescued animals. In early January, CNN reported that the group created 5,000+ bat wraps, joey pouches, blankets, and towels to be sent to Australia. As of January 20th, the group has halted collections for assessment but encourages individuals to reach out to local rescues if they wish to continue to help.
Ancient “Dinosaur” Trees Saved by Firefighters
The Wollemi pine tree species dates far beyond the dinosaurs, but only 200 individuals exist in the wild today. Until 1994, the prehistoric trees were thought to be extinct and are found only within Wollemi National Park in Australia. The pines are so revered that their exact location is kept a secret. But as the bushfires began to close in on the national park, firefighters and wildlife service members in New South Wales formulated a plan to protect the trees from the flames. Fire retardant was dropped around the pines and an irrigation system was put in place to keep them wet. The fire eventually passed through and as the smoke cleared the firefighters were able to see that their efforts had worked—all but two trees survived the blaze.
Have you heard of any other groups that have helped respond to the bushfires in Australia?
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