(TMU) — As the unprecedented wave of bushfires continue to lay waste to Australia, people across the world have looked in horror as the devastation shows no sign of slowing down.
Over 200 fires continue to burn across the country, with upwards of 12.35 million acres being devastated in the blaze. Some 1,500 homes have been lost since the crisis began in September, while at least 24 people have been killed and dozens remain missing.
Indeed, the past weekend saw a horrible escalation of the months-long crisis, and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned on Sunday that the fires may burn for “months to go.” Military reservists have been called up by the thousands to assist in firefighting efforts.
Tragically, over half a billion wild animals are believed to have been killed by the flames. Entire rare and endangered species may have been wiped out. Over 30,000 koalas are feared to have died in the fires, transforming the beloved national mascot into a symbol of a national and global tragedy. Experts fear that the loss of animals could exponentially increase once an accurate count is made.
On the political front, conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison has faced fierce criticism for his government’s seeming disregard for the climate crisis and inaction toward the bushfires. On Saturday, reports emerged of firefighters cursing the prime minister and saying that he should “get f*****” and resign.
In the meantime, concerned citizens across the globe have expressed their wish to help displaced evacuees, firefighters, and injured creatures in whatever way possible.
Here’s a few ways you can help.
An unprecedented mass relocation of civilians from Mallacoota is underway with two naval vessels (Choules & Sycamore) set to carry 963 passengers to safety at Western Port. Conditions are smoky but fine in Mallacoota today. #TYFYS @DeptDefence @Australian_Navy pic.twitter.com/dWXz4sabD6
— Darren Chester MP (@DarrenChesterMP) January 2, 2020
Evacuees and Displaced People
- The Australian Red Cross is supporting thousands of people spread out across evacuation and recovery centers across the country.
- The St. Vincent de Paul Society is helping evacuated families recover from the fires by providing food, clothing, assistance with bills, and donating household items to those whose homes went up in flames.
- Foodbank, the largest hunger-relief charity in Australia, is accepting donations of food, services, and funds.
- Help Australia’s indigenous First Nations to rebuild through GoFundMe!
- Givit is accepting donations of food, toiletries, and household items.
Here’s the full clip: “Stand down now. You don’t deserve to govern. You knew this was coming.”
Firefighter who collapsed: “I’ve already lost seven houses in Nelligen. I’m not gonna lose anymore, d*******.”
— Angus Duncan (@Angus_Duncan) January 4, 2020
- The New South Wales Rural Fire Service has been bravely fighting on the frontlines of the fires and some have paid the ultimate price for their valiant efforts. The service has set up specific funds for the families of those volunteers who were killed in duty during the crisis.
- Victoria’s firefighting service, Country Fire Authority, is accepting donations. They are also coordinating accommodations for displaced victims of the fires.
- The Country Fire Service in South Australia is accepting direct donations.
- The Rural Fire Brigades Association needs support for firefighters in Queensland.
When the birds start singing fire engine sounds… 😧
Credit: Gregory Andrews, Newcastle. pic.twitter.com/g11BMry1HC
— Isobel Roe (@isobelroe) January 1, 2020
- WIRES, a wildlife rescue nonprofit that is rescuing and caring for thousands of sick, injured, and orphaned native animals, is taking donations.
- Donate to the World Wildlife Fund Australia, which has been devoting its efforts toward saving threatened koalas.
- The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital‘s GoFundMe has been a major success, collecting millions of dollars to help rescue and treat dozens of koalas suffering severe burns. Donations toward the hospital will help set up a network of automatic drinking stations across burnt areas that will be crucial for wildlife to survive, and the hospital is also establishing a wild koala breeding program to ensure that the species can survive after the crisis.
- The RSPCA New South Wales is helping to evacuate, rescue, and treat pets and wildlife in threatened areas.
- A GoFundMe for the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park is hoping to help the remote island recover from devastating fires this past weekend that has potentially killed entire rare species. According to the park, donations will go towards veterinary costs, koala milk, supplements, extra holding/rehabilitation enclosures, as well as setting up a building to hold supplies to treat the animals.
As Marine Life Flees the Equator, Global Mass Extinction is Imminent: Scientists
The waters surrounding the equator are one of the most biodiverse areas in the globe, with the tropical area rich in marine life including rare sea turtles, whale sharks, manta rays, and other creatures.
However, rampant rises in temperate have led to a mass exodus of marine species from the sensitive region – with grave implications for life on earth.
While ecologists have long seen the thriving biodiversity of equatorial species holding constant in the past few centuries, a new study by Australian researchers published in The Conversation has found that warming global temperatures are now hitting the equator hard, potentially leading to an unprecedented mass extinction event.
The researchers from the Universities of Auckland, Queensland, and the Sunshine Coast found that as waters surrounding the equator continue to heat up, the ecosystem is being disrupted and forcing species to flee toward the cooler water of the South and North Pole.
The massive changes in marine ecosystems that this entails will have a grave impact not only on ocean life – essentially becoming invasive species in their new homes – but also on the human livelihoods that depend on it.
“When the same thing happened 252 million years ago, 90 percent of all marine species died,” the researchers wrote.
To see where marine life is headed, the researchers tracked the distribution of about 49,000 different species to see what their trajectory was. The global distribution of ocean life typically resembles a bell curve, with far fewer species near the poles and more near the equator.
However, the vast alteration of the curve is already in motion as creatures flee to the poles, according to a study they published in the journal PNAS.
These changes augur major disruptions to global ecosystem as marine life scrambles in a chaotic fight for food, space, and resources – with a mass die-off and extinction of creatures likely resulting.
The research underscores the dire need for human societies to control rampant climate change before the biodiversity and ecological health of the planet is pushed past the point of no return.
Rare Creature Photographed Alive In The Wild For The First Time Ever
Advances in the methods used by researchers to watch wildlife have allowed for the photographing of a rare creature whose image had never been captured in the wild before.
Researchers in the West African nation of Togo were able to spot the rare Walter’s duiker, a rare species of petite African antelope, for the first time in the wild thanks to camera traps equipped with motion sensors.
In addition to the Walter’s duiker, the camera traps were also able to discover rare species of aardvarks and a mongoose, reports Gizmodo.
At a time when the extinction of entire species is becoming more common worldwide, such devices should help conservationists not only preserve creatures sought by bushmeat hunters but also spot rare animals whose presence is elusive for human observers. In the past, biologists were forced to rely on the same hunters for information.
“Camera traps are a game changer when it comes to biodiversity survey fieldwork,” said University of Oxford wildlife biologist Neil D’Cruze.
“I’ve spent weeks roughing it in tropical forests seemingly devoid of any large mammal species,” D’Cruze continued. “Yet when you fire up the laptop and stick in the memory card from camera traps that have been sitting there patiently during the entire trip—and see species that were there with you the entire time —it’s like being given a glimpse into a parallel world.”
The Walter’s duiker was discovered in 2010 when specimens of bushmeat were compared to other duiker specimens. The new images of the creature are the first to have been seen.
Rare species like Walter’s duiker are often not listed as “endangered” by groups like the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to a lack of data.
‘Horrific’ Swarms of Spiders, Snakes Invade Australian Homes Amid Devastating Floods
In recent years, Australia’s most populous state of New South Wales (NSW) has faced everything from drought to brushfires, a pandemic, a recent all-consuming plague of mice and now, devastating floods and massive hordes of spiders.
In videos shared across social media, hundreds if not thousands of spiders can be seen scrambling through people’s homes and garages prior to an evacuation order being issued on early Saturday in expectation of the floods.
In one video posted to Facebook by Melanie Williams, the arachnids of all sizes can be seen scrambling about in search of shelter from the coming deluge.
“Check these spiders out, oh my god, oh my god! Look at them all,” Williams said in the video. “No! No! Oh my god.”
The Guardian reports that Kinchela resident Matt Lovenfosse was pulling up to his home on Monday morning when he witnessed what appeared to be a sea of “millions” of spiders climbing about to escape the floodwaters.
“So I went out to have a look and it was millions of spiders,” Lovenfosse said.
“It’s amazing. It’s crazy,” he continued. “The spiders all crawled up on to the house, on to fences and whatever they can get on to.”
The flooding has resulted in some 18,000 residents fleeing their homes since last week, with authorities warning that the cleanup could last until April.
The floods have also seen thousands of snakes and insects of every kind scrambling to flee from the floods, with some snakes even leaping into rescue boats to avoid being drowned.
“There were also skinks, ants, basically every insect, crickets – all just trying to get away from the flood waters,” vistor Shenae Varley told Guardian Australia.
It’s just the latest reminder that Australia isn’t just another country – it may be its own entirely different world.
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