Among all the disasters and tragedies afflicting our world, the fires in Australia bring me to tears, my cherished memories of places half-a-world away now overlaid with videos of exploding eucalyptus forests, desperate firefighters, and animals with their paws burnt off. If you haven’t heard the gruesome statistics, ecologists based at the university of Sydney estimate that perhaps a half billion animals have been killed in the ongoing bushfires, many more left badly wounded and starving. In New South Wales the dead include about 8,000 koalas, wiping out thirty percent of that state’s koala population. And the amazing, glorious Australian birds! Thousands have been reported falling from the sky and washing up dead on beaches. The stories of loss can go on and on.

The situation is catastrophic now, but the recovery will be grueling and won’t be front-and-center in the news cycle. The need for help doesn’t end when the flames die. My dear Sydney friend, Elaine, is collecting raw carrots and sweet potatoes to help feed wombats and wallabies struggling to survive on a small patch of green on a burnt out property in the nearby Blue Mountains. While we can’t be there to deliver vegetables, Here are some worthwhile places to send monetary donations to help from a distance:

WIRES, New South Wales Wildlife Information, Rescue, and Education Services, Inc. (It’s more than just cuddly-looking koalas suffering!)

Help Save Kangaroo Islands Koalas and Wildlife (This is a Gofundme fundraiser. Many koala communities in Australia are already threatened by habitat loss, as well as devastated by Chlamydia, a severe and deadly disease. The koala community on South Australia’s Kangaroo Island is one of the few that remains disease-free, making loss of life there even more devastating. The island is also last refuge for a population of glossy black cockatoos and other rare wildlife.)

RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, in every Australian state, helps pets and other domestic animals abandoned or lost in the fires.)

The Australian Red Cross (Humans need help, too! Some Australians have lost everything they owned–– some have lost loved ones––to the fires.)

Right now it’s our Aussie sisters and brothers who need help. Maybe next summer here in the American West it will be you or me. Let’s never give in to sorrow and hopelessness as long as we can help one another. 

Pre-fire forest on the south coast of New South Wales