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How To Help Animals Affected By Australia's Bushfires

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As wildfires rage, animals across Australia are fighting for their lives.

Since the blazes began in New South Wales in September, it's been estimated that nearly half a billion animals have been killed or threatened. And as the fires continue to spread, so has the damage to Australia's native animals and their homes.

Australia is experiencing its driest and hottest year on record. And animals who escape the flames and smoke will soon have to deal with habitat destruction and food and water shortages.

The continent is home to more than 300 native species, ranging from marsupials such as kangaroos, koalas and wallabies to egg-laying mammals such as platypuses and echidnas. In addition to the devastating fires, the country is on the brink of an extinction crisis: “Some 34 species and subspecies of native mammals have become extinct in Australia over the last 200 years," Professor Chris Dickman wrote in a statement, "the highest rate of loss for any region in the world.”

But, still, there is hope.

There are actions you can take to help the animals affected by Australia’s wildfires and preserve the country's rich biodiversity.

Here are a few important ways to make a difference:

Make A Financial Donation

In order to help injured and displaced animals, organizations need monetary support to meet new demands. WIRES, an emergency fund for wildlife, has seen a spike in rescues since the bushfires started: “In December alone there were over 20,000 calls to WIRES 1300 line, a 14 percent increase on last year, and volunteers attended over 3,300 rescues,” WIRES wrote on their website. You can make a donation to WIRES on their Facebook page or via PayPal.

The RSPCA is also accepting donations to help with their efforts of gathering and evacuating threatened animals, as well as assisting at evacuation centers. Their staff will also be entering affected areas to treat injured animals and pets. You can make a donation to the RSPCA NSW here.

To help koalas displaced by the fires, you can give to the World Wildlife Fund, who will be using donations to help restore the “Koala Triangle," a portion of Australia’s east coast hit hardest by the fires. In addition, Port Macquarie Koala Hospital is installing koala water stations in burnt areas, as well as establishing the world’s first wild koala breeding program. You can donate to their GoFundMe here.

Donate Goods And Services

The gift of food and supplies can go a long way for rescue groups and shelters in need. If you prefer to donate items rather than cash, The Rescue Collective, a group based in Brisbane, is gathering food, medical supplies, bedding and more — you can check out their current wish list on Facebook.

Those who enjoy crafting, sewing or knitting can contribute to the efforts of the Animal Rescue Collective Craft Guild by making bedding, bandages, joey pouches and more for injured or orphaned animals. Find out how on the guild's Facebook page.

These small steps may not seem like a lot now, but they can lead to big changes for animals who need it most.