Bushfires spark ‘crazy’ global frenzy
AS THE world reacts to the Australian bushfire crisis, opening their hearts and wallets to help those affected, many have showed their support in other ways - furiously knitting away to help injured wildlife.
Crafters across the globe have banned together to make hundreds of protective pouches and blankets for homeless koalas, joeys and other native animals affected by the disaster.
The Animal Rescue Craft Guild said on Monday it had been bombarded with offers of help after putting out a call for volunteers to make bat wraps, joey pouches, birds nests, possum boxes, koala mittens and other cosy homes for marsupials.
The group's Facebook feed is filled with adorable images of joeys to koalas wearing their fashionable new garments as people from around the world continue to put needle to wool, sewing away.
"Thank you for looking after our wildlife … the saddest thing is seeing all these poor babies going through such terrible harsh conditions, my heart aches for all the animals caught in these fires. Such devastation for all live stock also … must have been so frightening god bless you all," one member wrote on the volunteer-run group's page.
Guild founding member Belinda Orellana told Reuters on Monday "the response has been amazing", with donations coming from as far as Italy, England, Hong Kong, Germany and France.
"It's been going crazy," she told the outlet.
Some people have even travelled to Australia to personally deliver the items.
"It's been going crazy," Ms Orellana told the outlet.
The Guild, which has 75,000 members, was originally formed a few months ago to make dog and cat beds and coats for animal shelters, but due to the devastating bushfires, crafters expanded the offering to include koala mittens for burned paws and pouches for infant joeys who have lost their mothers.
"It's the poor little souls that survived where we come in," Ms Orellana said. "Our group creates and supplies items to rescue groups and carers around the country who take in and care for the wildlife."
Narelle Munari, from Australia, uploaded an image bent over her sewing machine surrounded by the more than 52 items she has knitted and sewed.
"Yes I know this looks like unorganised chaos but … packed ready to deliver to the Hub are 42 Hanging Joey Night Pouches, 15 Hanging Liners, more bat wraps than I can count in that big bag, and assorted Joey Pouches of every size," she wrote alongside the image that has been liked more than 3400 times.
In Singapore, Leslie Kok was working on her fourth joey pouch and meeting up with other volunteers to share materials and tips.
"I will knit as long as there is a need for the pouches," Ms Kok told Reuters.
Niki Arthur, from London, is lobbying airlines on Twitter to carry items from the UK to Australia for free due to the mammoth shipping costs.
She has created a Facebook group called UK Crafters for Australia Animal Rescue effort to "facilitate the production of craft items to be sent to Australia to help with the care of animals affected by the catastrophic bushfires".
It was created on January 5 and has already reached more than 10,000 members.
Closer to the fires, Simone Watts in the Blue Mountains, NSW, saw the plea for help and set to work turning pillow cases into beds for bats or flying foxes.
"I looked at the list of what is most needed versus my fairly basic sewing capability and decided I could contribute the bat wraps," Ms Watts said.
The University of Sydney believes the death toll for animals in this season's unimaginable bushfires is at a staggering 480 million - and that's just in NSW.