Australian Govt Announces $50 Million Cash Injection for Wildlife, Enviro Groups Amid Bushfire Crisis

January 12, 2020Australia
Australian Govt Announces $50 Million Cash Injection for Wildlife, Enviro Groups Amid Bushfire Crisis
An injured koala is treated at the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Zoo in Kangaroo Island, Australia, on Jan. 10, 2020. (Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

The Australian federal government will put $50 million towards wildlife and environmental groups that are helping native flora and fauna in a bid to ease the damage caused by unprecedented bushfires.

The commonwealth money will be evenly split with $25 million to an emergency intervention fund and $25 million for frontline environmental groups.

This includes up to $5 million for Greening Australia for revegetation initiatives and up to $3 million for zoos to help treat animals.

Money will be steered by Australia’s threatened species commissioner Sally Box, who will work with a panel to put a recovery plan in place.

Australia fire
Volunteer Sarah Price of wildlife rescue group WIRES, who are working to save and rehabilitate animals from the months-long bushfire disaster, taking care of a rescued kangaroo at her house on the outskirts of Sydney on Jan. 9, 2020. (SAEED KHAN/AFP via Getty Images)

The panel will include university experts as well as people from Zoos Victoria, CSIRO and state and territory representatives.

The government’s main priorities are to rehabilitate injured wildlife, control feral predators, map affected areas and use unburned areas to protect animals.

Firefighter rescues wildlife
Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Capt. Dave Soldavini from the United States holds a baby kangaroo that was rescued from a wildfire, in Cobrunga, Australia, on Jan. 5, 2020. (Jeremy McMahon/Bureau of Land Management via AP)

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has described the bushfires as an ecological disaster, telling Sky News eight million hectares had been lost so far, with more than one billion animals estimated to have died.

Environment Minister Sussan Ley says it’s too early to know the impact of the catastrophic fires, but that it creates a historic environmental challenge.

“We need to be guided by scientific experts in the field, by our national research bodies, the traditional owners who have managed this land over tens of thousands of years, our farmers whose passion and commitment to the land spans generations and our local communities,” she said in a statement.

Meanwhile, thousands of kilograms of carrots and sweet potatoes are being dropped by planes in fire-affected areas of NSW to help wallabies.

A wallaby eats a carrot after NSW
A wallaby eats a carrot after NSW’s National Parks and Wildlife Service staff air-dropped them in wildfire-stricken areas around Wollemi and Yengo National Parks, New South Wales, Australia, on Jan. 11, 2020. (NSW DPIE Environment, Energy and Science/Handout via Reuters)

Injured animals are also being treated in bushfire-ravaged areas of Victoria.

RSPCA Victoria has deployed a mobile animal care unit to care for injured wildlife, including animals evacuated from the stranded town of Mallacoota.

Their South Australian peers have converted a wildlife refuge into a treatment centre for animals injured on Kangaroo Island.

Up to 80 animals are being rescued every day in Queensland, prompting the state government to announce $250,000 in grants for wildlife carers.

By Rebecca Gredley

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