Wildfires ravaging the Australian continent have killed 25 people and are taking an unprecedented toll on the country’s rich wildlife and other animals. We have all seen these heart-wrenching images in the media: dead koalas scattered across scorched landscapes; frightened cows standing under orange-red skies as the fires close in; kangaroos, their foot pads burned, fleeing the flames.
It is estimated that more than one billion animals may have been killed in this disaster of epic proportions that shows no sign of abating. HSI disaster response experts will deploy this week to assist our partner Humane Society International/Australia, given the extensive animal rescue and recovery efforts that a disaster of this scale requires. HSI/Australia has already provided emergency truckloads of water and supplementary feed for rescued wombats, kangaroos and flying foxes. They are also funding the building of additional rehabilitation enclosures for wildlife.
In addition to immediate treatment of injured animals for burns and smoke inhalation, these fires will require a long-term sustained response involving rescue, rehabilitation and hopefully the release of animals where feasible. HSI responders will assist with providing direct care to animals rescued from the wildfires and provide some respite to the caretakers who have already been working tirelessly to save them.
Thankfully, according to reports, people who are evacuated are being allowed to bring their pets with them. However, there have been devastating losses to livestock and we will seek to determine if, where and how we can assist with both companion animals and farm animals as well as wildlife.
HSI is a leader in global disaster response and we bring a wealth of experience to such work; in just the past few years our teams have deployed to help animals hit by devastating floods in India, earthquakes in Mexico and volcano eruptions in Guatemala, among other natural disasters. We also have experience working with governments around the globe to improve their disaster preparedness and ensure that animal suffering is minimized, in developing disaster response plans, and training first responders to treat animals in crisis.
The Australian wildfires are inextricably linked to the problem of climate change, and with the increasing frequency and severity of wildfires and other disasters around the world. HSI has made expanding its disaster response efforts a priority.
Our hearts are with the people and the wildlife, companion animals and farm animals of Australia affected by the wildfires. They need all the help they can get in the days to come, and we will provide as much as we can. You can help too. Please support HSI’s animal rescue effort in Australia and elsewhere by clicking here.