What’s happening, how the world is coming to the country’s aid, and how you can pitch in.
In a piece Thomas Wilmer wrote for us in 2006, he described Australia’s cattle country as “brutally beautiful.” Referred to by Aussies as “the bush,” it is a land with rich history that sees unpredictable weather and extreme temperatures — above 130 degrees Fahrenheit at its hottest and below freezing at its coldest — and that can evoke powerful emotions.
One thing has changed since then.
You’ve heard it a lot recently: Australia is burning.
But just because it’s no longer breaking news doesn’t mean it’s no longer a crisis. Roughly 18 million acres of land have been destroyed in flames about 10 times the size of those in California in 2018. A billion animals and more than 25 people have been killed. And there’s no sign of it slowing down any time soon.
It’s tragic — but there is hope.
People from all over the world are coming together to contribute to the fight against the blazes in any way they can. There are plenty of ways for you to help, too.
The family of the late Steve Irwin — wife Terri, daughter Bindi, and son Robert — have rescued more than 90,000 animals, countless of which include victims of the fires, through the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, a facility founded by Steve’s mother. The hospital is also more than halfway to its $2 million fundraising goal to provide assistance to wildlife affected by the flames.
View this post on Instagram
Officials in New South Wales have dropped more than 4,000 pounds of carrots and sweet potatoes down to brush-tailed rock-wallabies, an endangered species whose habitats have become ravaged by fires.
Operation Rock Wallaby 🦘- #NPWS staff today dropped thousands of kgs of food (Mostly sweet potato and carrots) for our Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby colonies across NSW 🥕🥕 #bushfires pic.twitter.com/ZBN0MSLZei
— Matt Kean MP (@Matt_KeanMP) January 11, 2020
Instagram accounts dedicated to nature posts are sharing images of animal rescue efforts and listing links directing to donation sites.
View this post on Instagram
More than 7,000 personnel — including 3,000 military reservists and 240 firefighters from the United States, Canada, and New Zealand — are involved in battling the flames. American firefighters landed at Sydney’s international airport and received a warm welcome from travelers.
Firefighters from the US arriving in Australia to help battle the country's devastating fires got a hero's welcome when they landed at Sydney Airport. https://t.co/RqtbJMqAlf pic.twitter.com/yb8Uw0d8BU
— CNN (@CNN) January 10, 2020
A cousin duo ventured out on a rescue mission on Kangaroo Island, corralling koala bears away from the flames and into their vehicle.
Below are just a handful of organizations raising money to combat the unprecedented blazes in Australia.
Charities in Australia:
Australia state fire services:
Charities in the United States:
For more information on the best way to navigate the endless number of outlets raising money for the bushfires, click here.
For more on outback cattle culture
Photography: NASA, BBC