*This post has been updated 11/01/2020*
Welcome to 2020; the future of Australia’s biodiversity may rest on one catastrophic bushfire season. Or should I say, Australia’s response to the effects of one catastrophic bushfire season. At time of writing, more than 10 million hectares of forest (primarily National Park estate and native forests) has burnt over the last 4 months with the worst fires occurring in five states; QLD, NSW, VIC, SA and WA. We watched on as spring ’19 approached and like dominoes, bushfires cascaded down the east coast of Australia from north to south. 26 people have lost their lives (with the death toll likely to rise) either fighting the fires or trying to escape them, and it is conservatively estimated that over 1.25 billion animals (livestock, pets and wildlife; figure does not include insects) have perished; including about one third of the already threatened koala population in NSW and half of the koala population on Kangaroo Island in South Australia. Sacred Indigenous sites and areas of rich cultural history, including middens and rock art sites, have been burnt and forever scarred. It has since been revealed that 2019 was Australia’s hottest and driest year on record. With the nasty Indian Dipole (the climate system primarily responsible for this drought and severe fire conditions) predicted to fade in March, we still have two months of this brutality to endure until the wet season rains and cyclones come to the northern half of Australia, although our southern states won’t likely get decent rain until later on.
What’s the best way to help right now?
So, what can we do, as caring humans, to preserve our precious biodiversity, as fires continue to blaze across Australia? We have received countless messages asking this very question, so we thought we would collate all the information that we know to be true about organisations who are either on the frontline of these fires helping wildlife and animals, or who will provide post-fire back up with population monitoring, animal welfare, habitat restoration and protection after the flames have receded. Obviously it’s going to take a lot of political pressure, policy change, drastic individual and community change to curb the effects of the environmental disaster / climate crisis we are seeing unfolding right now across the world. Although, we have found a simple and immediate solution that is the best way to help wildlife and animals affected by the fires… and that is to DONATE MONEY. Keep it local if you can. Also, the money is more effective if it’s spread around between organisations and states. We found a lot of confusing and misleading information out there and in the media, and when it comes to donating money to help victims of the bushfires, human and animal, the last thing we want is for our money to go into the wrong hands.
Who do we donate money to?
As Wild Search Australia is a nature-based business owned by a Wildlife Ecologist, we thought we should help to direct the general public to support organisations that help animals, wildlife and their habitats in need during this tragic time. Many of the organisations we have come across are state specific and some are even wildlife species specific, although there are a few which focus on all wildlife nationwide. Not all of the listed organisations specifically deal with fire victims on the ground, but will be instrumental in Australia’s wildlife and native habitat conservation into the future. It is widely accepted by wildlife scientists that there could be species’ extinctions caused from these recent fire events as well as severe and cascading effects on those that survived which may last many, many decades. Especially at risk are already-threatened species such as the koala, flying foxes, rock wallabies and other macropods, spotted-tail quolls, long-nosed potoroo, small reptile and frog species, Kangaroo Island’s glossy black cockatoo, Kangaroo Island’s dunnart and numerous glider and possum species. For those animals on the ground, surviving the fire front will only be their first hurdle. They then have to find shelter from predators, water to drink, food to eat, mates to reproduce with and tree hollows to raise their young in– all in a completely gutted landscape in many cases. After the fire front has moved through, any wildlife conservation-focused programs should prioritise protecting remaining habitats, animal welfare, installing supplementary water and food stations, installing nest boxes and artificial animal shelters, establishing captive breeding programs, increasing efforts to control pest animals and plants, caring for and rehabilitating injured wildlife and establishing monitoring programs. What these groups need right now is money, and lots of it. A good idea is to spread it around between species and states. Many organisations have already been overwhelmed with support from far and wide and many have now capped physical donations of koala mittens, blankets, medical supplies etc.
Now, more than ever, they just need money to keep up with their rescue and rehabilitation efforts.
Here is a comprehensive list of organisations (in order of state of operation – from north to south) if you’d like to donate money to any or many of these wildlife and animal organisations working directly or indirectly with bushfire victims in Australia.
Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital
AZWH are based on the Sunshine Coast, QLD adjacent to Australia Zoo and provide the rescue, care and rehabilitation of native wildlife from all over Australia. After the bushfires, they launched an appeal to raise $150,000 to build a new flying fox enclosure for rescued bats. At time of writing, they have raised $900,000 of their $2 million target. With the extra money, they plan to expand their operations, send money to other wildlife rescue organisations who are on the frontline, construct a koala intensive-care ward and provide wildlife carers with flying fox rescue kits.
You can donate to the AZWH bushfire appeal here.
Wildcare Australia Inc.
Wildcare Aust. is a not-for-profit organisation based in south-east Queensland and is licensed to rescue, rehabilitate and release injured, orphaned and sick wildlife in QLD. If you come across any sick or injured wildlife in SE QLD, call their hotline on (07) 5527 2444. They rely on donations to continue their operations.
Donate to Wildcare here.
Currumbin Wildlife Hospital
CWH is based on the Gold Coast, QLD and provides the rescue, care and rehabilitation of native wildlife from QLD and northern NSW. Areas in the Gold Coast Hinterland were hit by fire in September 2019 and as a result, admissions sharply increased at the CWH, pushing tight resources even further. The average cost for one of their animal patients is $90. In 2019 alone, they treated 600 of SE Queensland’s and northern NSW koalas and 12,200 other wild animals!
You can donate to the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital here.
New South Wales:
NSW Wildlife Council Inc.
The NSW Wildlife Council is the peak body for wildlife rescue and rehabilitation groups in NSW. They have set up a NWC Drought and Fire Recovery Fund, which aims to provide long term support to its wildlife organisations.
Donate to the NSW Wildlife Council here.
WIRES (Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service Inc) are the largest wildlife rescue organisation in Australia and carry out the rescue, rehabilitation and release of injured, orphaned and sick native wildlife in NSW 24/7. They train and manage thousands of volunteer wildlife carers all over the state, and rely on community support to do so. After the recent bushfires, they set up an Emergency Fund to deal with the more than 20,000 wildlife-related callouts and more than 3,300 rescues. If you find any sick, injured or orphaned native animal in NSW, please call their rescue hotline on 1300 094 737. At time of writing, they have raised over $13.1 million.
You can also support their Emergency Fund here.
RSPCA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is a registered charity and not-for-profit organisation whose mission is to care for sick, abandoned, surrendered and neglected animals across NSW (primarily pets and livestock). They are currently responding to animal emergencies on the front-line of the fires, assisting at evacuation centres in NSW and helping people with the safe bushfire evacuations of their pets and livestock. They are also working alongside state authorities to assess for injured and dead animals on the ground immediately post-fire.
You can donate to their bushfire appeal here.
Friends of the Koala Inc.
FOK are a not-for-profit organisation based in Lismore, NSW and are licensed to rescue, rehabilitate and release sick, orphaned and injured wild koalas in NSW. They operate a koala hospital and adjoining visitor centre in Lismore and are entirely reliant on their community to run. After fires devastated many koala habitat areas in northern NSW and SE Qld, FOK set up a Give Easy campaign to raise money for the rescue and rehabilitation of these bushfire-affected koalas. At time of writing, they have raised $99,000 of their $50,000 target. If you find an injured or sick koala in the Northern Rivers NSW area, you can call their rescue hotline on (02) 6622 1233.
You can donate to their Urgent Bushfire Appeal here.
Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers Inc.
NRWC is a Northern Rivers NSW based, 100% volunteer run, not-for-profit organisation licensed to rescue, rehabilitate and release sick, orphaned and injured wildlife. The Northern Rivers area was significantly impacted by the recent bushfires and as a result, resources are stretched for many wildlife caring organisations. If you find any injured or sick wildlife in northern NSW, call their hotline on (02) 6628 1866.
You can donate to NRWC here.
Bangalow Koalas in a not-for-profit community organisation based in Bangalow, northern NSW, who aims to plant 40,000 trees in 2020. One of their main project goals for the year is to create a koala corridor in the Byron Bay hinterland.
Donate to help Bangalow Koalas plant wildlife corridors in northern NSW here.
FAWNA (For Australian Wildlife Needing Aid) is licensed to rescue, rehabilitate and rescue injured, orphaned and sick wildlife and operates in an area spanning from Buladelah to Kempsey on NSW’s Central and Mid-North coast. If you come across injured or sick wildlife in this area, please call their hotline on (02) 6581 4141.
FAWNA is now running a campaign called Food4Wildlife, which now has over 30 collection points across three council areas in NSW. They are raising money to run their programs, provide wildlife with veterinary care, and support their wildlife carers with equipment to rehabilitate the animals that come into care post-fire. They also have a Nest Box Appeal with the aim to raise money to build and install nest boxes for wildlife that survived the fires.
You can donate to FAWNA’s Food4Wildlife and Nest Box Appeals here.
Port Macquarie Koala Hospital
The PMKH operate under Koala Conservation Australia Inc. and are licensed to rescue, rehabilitate and release sick, orphaned and injured wild koalas in NSW. They are currently caring for 31 koalas rescued from the fire grounds at their wildlife hospital in Port Macquarie, NSW and were responsible for rescuing the darling ‘Lewis’, who brought attention to the plight of koalas in these recent bushfire events. The Port Macquarie area is known to have one of the most genetically healthy koala populations in NSW and it is estimated that approximately 350 koalas have perished in the fires. After the recent bushfires, PMKH set up an emergency fund in order to install water stations in affected areas around the NSW Mid North Coast and have since set up a wild koala breeding program called ‘Koala Ark’. At time of writing, they have already raised over $5.9 million.
You can donate to their Go Fund Me here.
Koalas in Care Inc.
KIC is a not-for-profit group licensed to rescue, rehabilitate and release sick, injured and orphaned wild koalas in NSW. They cover the Greater Taree, Great Lakes and Gloucester areas of Mid North Coast of NSW. If you find an injured or sick koalas in these areas, call (02)6552 2183.
Donate to Koalas in Care here.
Wildlife in Need of Care Inc.
WINoC is a not-for-profit community group based on the Central Coast of NSW and is licensed to rescue, rehabilitate and release sick, orphaned and injured wildlife. They operate from Port Stephens to Lower Dungog areas and need assistance with the operations of their organisation.
Donate to WINC here.
Aussie Ark is a not-for-profit group committed to the conservation of Australia’s threatened species. Originally set up as the ‘Devil Ark’ to preserve Tasmanian Devil populations, they have now extended to include six other threatened species. They need continued funding to purchase wild sanctuaries for housing and breeding threatened species in insurance populations, with the aim of releasing them back into semi-wild, predator proof enclosures. They’re based in the Barrington Tops area of central NSW.
Donate to Aussie Ark here.
Sydney Wildlife Mobile Care Unit
The SWMCU has been set up and is ready to attend to wildlife affected by the bushfires. The money raised by their fund will go directly towards veterinary treatment of animals as well as diagnostic equipment. At time of writing, they have raised $37,000 of their $75,000 goal.
Donate to their Go Fund Me here.
Team Quoll: Illawarra and Southern Highlands
The South Coast of NSW was hit hard by bushfires, including in quoll habitat in Monga National Park. After the fires, ‘Team Quoll’ set up a Go Fund Me to continue monitoring the quoll populations, implement water stations, build nest boxes and install temporary shelters for small mammals to use. They also intend to share proceeds with the Wombat Care Bundanoon group. At time of writing, they have raised $4,000 of their $5,000 goal.
You can help them reach their goal on Go Fund Me here.
LAOKO Snowy Mountains Wildlife Rescue
LAOKO (Looking After Our Kosciuszko Orphans) is a not-for-profit group licensed to rescue, rehabilitate and release injured, orphaned and sick wildlife in the Monaro region of NSW. The Snowy Mountains region has been hard hit by recent bushfires. Funds raised will assist them with their wildlife rescue work. If you come across any injured or sick wildlife in the Snowy Mountains NSW, call their hotline on (02) 6456 1313.
Donate to LAOKO here.
Mogo Zoo Foundation Ltd.
The Mogo Wildlife Park is a privately owned zoo in Bateman’s Bay NSW and its community has been severely affected by recent bushfires. The money raised will go towards the care and rehabilitation of injured and displaced wildlife. At time of writing, Mogo Zoo Foundation had raised over $88,000 for their local community and its wildlife.
You can donate to Mogo’s Zoo’s bushfire recovery Go Fund Me here.
Wildlife Rescue South Coast
WRSC is a not-for-profit, 100% volunteer run organisation licensed to rescue, rehabilitate and release sick, orphaned and injured wildlife in NSW. They operate between Wollongong south to the Victorian border. They require funds to continue their operations and assist wildlife that’s been affected by the bushfires. They license the Shoalhaven Bat Clinic, a volunteer run clinic specifically for rescued flying foxes and microbats, based in the Shoalhaven region of NSW. They require donations to deal with the large numbers of bats coming into care since the drought and bushfires. They also license Wild2Free, a not-for-profit group set up to provide a soft-release site for release of rehabilitated wildlife, especially macropods (kangaroos and wallabies). Sadly, the Wild2Free Sanctuary burnt down in January 2020, destroying their building and killing their animals and will need immediate funds to restore their operations.
Donate to WRSC’s Shaolhaven Bat Clinic here
Donate to Wild2Free Inc. here
Donate to Wildlife Rescue South Coast directly here.
Wildlife Victoria is a not-for-profit registered charity that provides the community with a Wildlife Emergency Response service, to help wildlife in times such as this bushfire disaster. The money donated will go towards helping wildlife shelters and wildlife carers, providing much needed infrastructure such as animal enclosures and medical care. If you come across any sick or injured wildlife in Victoria, call their hotline on (03) 8400 7300.
You can donate to Wildlife Victoria here.
Zoos Victoria are a zoo-based not-for-profit organisation which operate three zoos in Victoria. They have stated on their website that this emergency bushfire funding will help them to provide emergency vet care and scientific intervention to wildlife, such as supplementary feeding stations in affected areas. If you find injured or sick wildlife in Victoria you can call (03) 5957 2829 or drop-off animals (9am – 4pm) at Healesville Sanctuary , Glen Eadie Avenue, Healesville, Vic. 3777.
You can donate to their Bushfire Emergency Wildlife Fund here.
Like RSPCA NSW, RSPCA VIC (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is a registered charity and not-for-profit organisation whose mission is to care for sick, abandoned, surrendered and neglected animals across VIC (primarily pets and livestock). They are working alongside Agriculture Victoria to help distressed and injured animals across the fire zones.
Donate to RSPCA’s bushfire appeal here.
Warriors 4 Wildlife
W4W is a not-for-profit organisation licensed to rescue, rehabilitation and release sick, orphaned and injured wildlife in Victoria. They will use the funds raised to continue to support wildlife carers on the ground in the hardest hit areas by coordinating the transport, care and boarding of wildlife.
Donate to W4W here.
Mallacoota Wildlife Shelter
The Mallacoota Wildlife Shelter is based in the Gippsland region of Victoria and rehabilitates wild animals. The Gippsland area was hit hard by the recent bushfires. A Go Fund Me was set up to support the work of the Wildlife Shelter by providing emergency support to wildlife affected by the fires in this area and providing continued support and rehabilitation of wildlife into the future. At time of writing, they have raised $114,000 of their $125,000 target.
Donate to MWS here.
Adelaide Koala and Wildlife Hospital
AKWH is a not-for-profit wildlife hospital in Adelaide, South Australia. The hospital provides free veterinary care to injured and sick wildlife as well as participating in wildlife-based educational and awareness programs. They rely on donations from the public for their continuation and money raised goes towards the veterinary care and rehabilitation of wildlife in the state.
Donations to the Adelaide Koala and Wildlife Hospital can be made here.
Fauna Rescue of South Australia Inc.
FRSA is a not-for-profit organisation based in Modbury North, SA and is licensed to rescue, rehabilitate and release sick, orphaned and injured wildlife in SA. If you find any injured or sick wildlife in SA, call their hotline on (08) 8289 0896. Whilst they do not have a specific bushfire appeal set up, donations to the organisations will go towards the care of native wildlife by their volunteer wildlife carers across the state.
Donate to FRSA here.
Nature Foundation South Australia Inc.
NFSA is a not-for-profit organisation working towards to conservation, restoration and protection of wildlife and their habitats in South Australia. After the bushfires, they set up an appeal to assist in the rehabilitation of wildlife habitat in SA post-fire, particularly on Kangaroo Island. Another Go Fund Me campaign was also set up on their behalf to conserve the endangered Kangaroo Island Glossy Black Cockatoo.
SAVEM (South Australia Veterinary Emergency Management) is a registered charity, a 100% volunteer-run group and works to treat, shelter, rehabilitate, reunite, and return all species of animal, pet and wildlife, post-disaster events. They have been working extensively on the fire-ground in SA, particularly in the Cudlee Creek area, to rescue animals including livestock and koalas, kangaroos and possums.
You can donate funds to this organisation here.
Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife
KILFW is a volunteer-run community group responsible for monitoring populations of the KI dunnart on private property on Kangaroo Island. The endangered Kangaroo Island Dunnart is endemic (only found) on Kangaroo Island and all of its habitat was burnt, which is likely to push it closer to extinction. At time of writing, they have raised $31,000 of their $10,000 target. The money raised will be used to buy equipment used to monitor the species and support partnering landholders affected by the fires.
You can donate to their Go Fund Me here.
Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park
KIWP is a privately owned zoo on Kangaroo Island, SA. Kangaroo Island has lost over 150,000 hectares of forest (about 1/3 of the island), primarily koala habitat, to the recent devastating bushfires as well as an estimated 25,000 koalas (about half of the island’s koala population). Although not originally native to the island, Kangaroo Island is known for its koalas and was set up as a chlamydia-free haven for them in the 1920’s. The KIWP are raising money to assist in the emergency care, housing and rehabilitation of koalas from the bushfire zone on the island. At time of writing, they’ve raised $1.2 million of their $15,000 goal.
You can donate to their Go Fund Me here.
Raptor Domain is an environmental education centre based on Kangaroo Island. Their facility was affected by the bushfires and was evacuated on two occasions. They urgently require funds to buy portable enclosures for their captive birds of prey, until the threat of fires has passed.
Donate to Raptor Domain’s Go Fund Me here.
Kangaroo Island Wildlife Network
KIWN are a not-for-profit group who are licensed to rescue, rehabilitate and release injured, sick and orphaned wildlife on Kangaroo Island, SA. If you come across any sick or injured wildlife on KI, call their hotline on 0477 334 898.
Donate to KIWN here.
Friends of the Western Ground Parrot Inc.
The FOTWGP community group have set up a Rescue Fund to help search for remaining individuals of western ground parrot in Cape Arid National Park in Western Australia, after the area was devastated by bushfires. This species is one of the rarest parrots in the world with less than 150 western ground parrots remaining. Funds raised will go towards purchasing additional equipment to monitor their populations.
You can support their CrowdRaiser campaign here.
Fire Relief Fund for First Nation’s Communities
Something that has been largely ignored in mainstream media is the effect on Indigenous Australians from the recent bushfire and drought disasters, and the effects this will have on biodiversity conservation into the future. Our First Nation’s people will play a critical role in the restoration and protection of native habitat and wildlife populations post-fire. A fund was set up on Go Fund Me to offer basic needs to Aboriginal communities and First Nation’s people affected directly, offering replacement of damage equipment and infrastructure, temporary housing costs and community support. This will enable communities to get back on their feet. So far, they’ve raised over $1 million to help First Nation’s people to recover after the fires.
Donate to the Fund for First Nation’s Communities here.
The Rescue Collective
TRC are a community organisation based in Brisbane, QLD who aim to support wildlife rescuers and wildlife organisations along the east coast of Australia. At time of writing, they have raised $80,000 of their $150,000 target. The money will be used to drop food supplements off in bushfire affected areas and provide medical and other supplies to groups that need it.
Donate to their Rescue Craft Guild here.
WWF-Aust. (World Wide Fund for Nature) is Australia’s biggest nature and wildlife conservation organisation. They are currently running a koala conservation project, in which you can ‘adopt a koala’. WWF-Australia states that the money raised will go towards the rescue of wildlife immediately after the bushfires and then the restoration of their habitats (primarily koala habitat) into the future, including planting the first 10,000 trees.
You can donate to their Australian Wildlife and Nature Recovery Fund here.
Australian Wildlife Conservancy
AWC is Australia’s largest owner of private land for wildlife conservation, with 6.5 million hectares of conservation land currently owned and managed by them. Whilst their properties are not directly affected by the bushfires at this stage, the organisation will play a key role in Australian wildlife conservation into the future by securing protected land and re-establishing wildlife populations. As a result of these recent bushfires, more species will be pushed to the brink of extinction and land protection will be vital to protecting and restoring Australia’s biodiversity.
You can donate to AWC here.
Tolga Bat Hospital
TBH is a wildlife hospital and registered charity based in Atherton, far north Queensland, specifically licensed to rescue, rehabilitate and release injured, sick and orphaned flying foxes and microbats from all over Australia. Flying foxes, in particular, are one group of species which has been hit hard by bushfires and drought along the east coast of Australia in recent times. Flying foxes are critical to healthy forest ecosystems as they are seed dispersers. In 2018, one third of the world’s spectacled flying fox population died in a heatwave incident in far north Queensland and more bats are expected to die in similar heat wave incidents across Australia this summer.
You can donate to TBH’s bushfire appeal here (you need to specify that it’s for the bushfire appeal and the money will be distributed out to bat caring organisations in need across Australia).
Animals Australia is a not-for-profit animal protection organisation who are providing immediate support to wildlife vets on the frontline of the bushfires. They have set up a bushfire fund to channel money to organisations in the hardest hit regions.
Donate to Animal Australia’s bushfire fund here.
Vets for Compassion
Vets for Compassion is an international, volunteer-run organisation providing animal welfare services to Australia and Asia. They are currently providing on the ground support to areas in East Gippsland hardest hit by the bushfires. They are fundraising to support their work, purchase veterinary supplies to treat injured wildlife. At time of writing, they have raised $84,000 of their $100,00 target.
Donate to Vets for Compassion Go Fund Me here.
Humane Society International Australia
HSI are an international animal protection charity. HSI Australia has been delivering water and food to the hardest hit areas in Australia. They will continue to use the funds to further support wildlife carers on the frontline of the bushfires.
Donate to HSI’s wildlife emergency response fund here.
Know of any more animal organisations that need funding?
Whilst this is a comprehensive list, there may be organisations, particularly smaller ones that have been left off unintentionally. Please get in contact if you have a Go Fund Me campaign, bushfire appeal or similar, directly related to the bushfire recovery efforts and set up for wildlife and animals in your area, and we’ll update the article to include your group.
What else can you do locally to help animals?
Normally, it is not advised to feed wild animals, although during times like these it is important we help to supplement their food and water immediately after fire, as animals will starve and become dehydrated otherwise. Here’s some tips from WIRES on how you can directly help wildlife and other animals at your place. Easy ones are to put out shallow bowls of water and regularly refill them and make up feeding stations (check feeding guide for lists of foods) to attract local birds.
Our thoughts are with everyone affected by the recent bushfire and drought events in Australia. Look after yourselves and each other. Thank you for caring about our wild places, they need us now more than ever.
*Featured imagine by Matt Abbott*
This article was written by Wildlife Ecologist Caitlin Weatherstone (B.App.Sc; M.App.Sc) for Wild Search Australia.
Media contact: Caitlin firstname.lastname@example.org