Mittens for koalas, wraps for bats and pouches for joeys anyone?

As the world grieves for Australia during their ongoing bushfire crisis, communities all over the planet have been brought together, united in their distress, to not only donate, but also knit for the cause.

Crafty men, women and children have banded together to make hundreds of protective items for injured or displaced wildlife. Even people who cannot sew or knit have been urged to take part to assist with tasks such as cutting material and donating suitable fabric.

View this post on Instagram

I want you to meet Bib… Bib is one of the two baby ringtail possums we rescued yesterday. She was suffering from burnt paws, heat stroke and dehydration. As the Aussie bushfires rage on, it’s estimated that over 1 billion animals have now perished. We currently have just over 1000 animals in our care at Sydney Wildlife Rescue, thanks to our 470 volunteer carers across the Sydney Metropolitan Region. This is your chance to help these cute little guys… Next week, specially trained members of our team will be entering the fire grounds and blackwalking to find and rescue any animals in need. For wildlife rescued like Bib, it takes several days to assess the depth and severity of their burns. Bib needs pain relief medication and daily special burn dressings on her wounds, and will be in our care for up to a month. You may not be able to come out in the field with us, but you can be with us in spirit. Help save wildlife like Bib by donating to our bushfire emergency fund: The money you donate will go to: * our mobile unit – which goes to the fire grounds and 4 of our vets will be onsite to rescue wildlife in need * food – our carers need to feed little guys like these up to 7 times every day * special burn dressings – the wildlife bandages need to be changed daily to keep their wounds clean * pain relief medication – so our wildlife aren’t in agony from their burns If you’re not in a financial position to donate at the moment, that’s okay – it would be wonderful if you could please share this post so it reaches more people 🙂 #sydneywildlife #sydneywildliferescue #ringtailpossum #possum #australianwildlife #bushfiresaustralia #rescuedwildlife #bushfiresnsw #possums

A post shared by Joyce Ong (@joyceongcreative) on

The out-of-control fires have been raging in many states since November, devastating eco-systems and killing an estimated 500 MILLION animals. Just let that sink in for a second – that’s half a BILLION and the number is likely to rise once the full extent of the damage is known.

Hundreds of rescue operations have been made by organisations and the general public, flooding rescue centres, veterinary clinics and sanctuaries with new patients in dire need of care. Although it’s a heart-warming effort, it’s safe to say that these organisations are resource-strapped and need all the support they can get.

Knitting bees have popped up all over the place inspired by a call for donations by the Animal Rescue Craft Collective Guild. The group was originally set up to make domestic pet beds and coats for dogs in pounds. However the group has jumped on supporting the bushfire rescue efforts and is now over 75,000 members strong.

Using Facebook as their main channel of communication, the group not only offers advice on what items are needed the most, it provides a community for people to support one another and share their knitting progress.

The most amazing thing is that this movement has gone global. Pictures on the pages’ timeline show people in the USA, Norway, Costa Rica and the UK, to name just a few countries, taking part.

Image credit: ARCCG

As you can see, joey pouches, hanging pouches and animal beds are in very high demand with bird and rodent nests, bird boxes, blankets and bat wraps in high need.

My friend Akii joined an organised meet up in Melbourne recently and donated her time to cut materials for joey pouches.

“Coming together and volunteering to make a difference to the community has always been a big passion of mine. However in these unprecedented bushfire times, it was more important than ever.”

“The only positive during this horrific time in Australian history is seeing people from all walks of life, far and wide, from all over the world, coming together to help out. The love and support has been overwhelming.”

Image credits: @adventuress.akii

Despite hundreds of species being affected, it is estimated that the iconic koala has been hit the hardest mainly because they are slow moving creatures and cannot escape the flames quick enough.

Roughly 25,000 koalas on Kangaroo Island, (just one small island near Adelaide) have been killed, with an unknown number of koalas deaths across the whole country.

Though one thing we do know is that these bushfires have pushed the koala species to become classed as ‘functionally extinct’. Essentially this means that koalas now have such a small population that they can’t play a significant role in their ecosystem, which makes the long-term viability of the species unlikely.

In addition to this saddening news, 80% of their habitat has been destroyed in the fires. Unfortunately, eucalyptus, the only food that koalas eat, doesn’t grow fast and so those koalas that have survived will struggle for food in the coming years.

Expert advice has suggested that donations are the most effective way to help the bushfire crisis. So here are some charities in Australia working with animals affected by the fires that you can donate to:

If you’re not able to donate, then how about joining the Animal Rescue Craft Collective Guild group and getting creative? If there’s not a bushfire relief sewing group near you, how about starting one?

You don’t even need to buy material – old pillow cases, sheets and clothing can be recycled and if you need a little guidance, there are tonnes of tutorials about how to make items on Youtube. That’s the beauty with this movement – it need not cost you a cent if you can’t afford it.

The RSPCA are also offering ‘how-to’ worksheets and videos showing people with crafty skills how to create the items from scratch.

Despite the devastation of the fires, people from all walks of life have been compelled to combine forces to do what they can. In the face of such a tragic disaster, the human compassion has been overwhelming and there’s no denying that there’s something truly beautiful in that.

Stay tuned for another piece on the Australian bushfires by the Travelettes based in Melbourne and Sydney.