Posted on: January 7, 2020 at 9:21 pm
Last updated: October 14, 2020 at 6:03 pm

The devastating fires that have been raging in Australia over the last several weeks have taken the lives of nearly 1 billion animals and are on track to desolate one of the world’s most diverse ecosystems in an unparalleled way [1,2].

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The fires have been burning since September leaving over 6.3 million hectares of bush, forest, and parks scorched so far, forcing several towns to be completely evacuated [3].

There has been a tremendous outpouring of support for the country from groups and nations all around the world, but none have been as reactive as the Australian people themselves. Among those brave volunteers is none other than Bindi Irwin, daughter of the late “Crocodile Hunter”, Steve Irwin [2].

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A Family Legacy

The famed conservationist and environmentalist, who sadly passed away while filming a nature documentary in 2006, had passed on his love for animals and our environment to his children, most notably his daughter, Bindi Irwin  [1,4].

In the eleven years since his passing, his late wife, Terri, and their two children Bindi and Robert have continued his legacy. They have continued running the charity Steve and Terri set up in 2002, the Steve Irwin Conservation Foundation, which educates the public about the protection of injured, threatened, and endangered wildlife, and Terri continues to run the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital [4,2]. It is now known as Wild Life Warriors World Wide.

Bindi Irwin explains why they continue to work so hard:”[working with animals is] a part of who we are, it’s not just what we do,” she said. “We do want to carry on in Dad’s footsteps, and make sure everything he worked so hard for continues on.”[5]

Related: Australian Woman Takes Off Her Shirt to Save an Injured Koala from a Wildfire

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Wildlife Warriors to the Rescue

The Irwins have stepped up to the plate in a major way to do their part in this fiery tragedy. To date, the family has rescued and treated over 90 thousand animals who have been injured in Australia’s bushfires [6].

The zoo normally treats around 8 thousand animals per year [2].

In a recent instagram post, Bindi Irwin spoke about the work that her family and the zoo has been doing to help those affected by this tragedy.

“With so many devastating fires within Australia, my heart breaks for the people and wildlife who have lost so much. I wanted to let you know that we are SAFE. There are no fires near us @AustraliaZoo or our conservation properties.

Our Wildlife Hospital is busier than ever though, having officially treated over 90,000 patients. My parents dedicated our Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital to my beautiful grandmother.

We will continue to honor her by being Wildlife Warriors and saving as many lives as we can.” [2]

Just How Big Are the Fires in Australia?

In 2018, the fires in California and in the Amazon Rainforest made international headlines, destroying homes, displacing people and animals, and taking thousands of casualties. These were devastating events, but what is even more terrifying is that those fires were significantly smaller than the ones currently burning in Australia [7].

To date, more than 15.6 million acres have burned, and the country is still only in the middle of bushfire season [7]. That’s more than ten times the size of both the 2018 California fires and the fires in the Amazon [8,9].

How Did These Fires Start?

A combination of record-breaking temperatures, severe drought, and high winds is the reason the fires in Australia have gotten so bad [10]. 

One day in mid-December, Australia had its hottest-ever day, with temperatures reaching 107.4 degrees Fahrenheit, or 41.9 degrees celsius. This heat has come on the tails of the driest spring the country has ever experienced [10]. New South Wales has been hit the hardest and has declared a state of emergency, along with its neighboring state, Victoria [11].

How Can You Help?

Even if you do not live in Australia, there are many organizations you can support to offer your help no matter where you are in the world:

  1. The Australian Red Cross. The Australian branch of the Red Cross is accepting donations to its disaster relief and recovery fund to provide support to displaced people in more than 69 evacuation and recovery centers across the country. You can also donate clothes and household goods [12].
  2. GIVIT is an organization that matches donated items with items that have been specifically requested by victims of the fires [13].
  3. The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, the Australian Koala Foundation, and Koalas Care Inc.and the World Wildlife Fund are all raising funds to protect the koalas, who have been hit the hardest during the fires, who have lost nearly eight thousand of their species [14,2]

A Global Effort

A disaster of this magnitude requires more than just one family, it requires the entire global community to come together. To learn more ways that you can help with disaster relief, please click here.

Read More: Extreme Temperatures And Fires Have Left Australia’s Koalas In Crisis

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Brittany Hambleton
Team Writer
Brittany is a freelance writer and editor with a Bachelor of Science in Foods and Nutrition and a writer’s certificate from the University of Western Ontario. She enjoyed a stint as a personal trainer and is an avid runner. Brittany loves to combine running and traveling, and has run numerous races across North America and Europe. She also loves chocolate more than anything else… the darker, the better!

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