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  • A burnt paw of a brushtail possum is pictured as it is nursed by WIRES volunteers in Merimbula, Australia January 9, 2020.

    A burnt paw of a brushtail possum is pictured as it is nursed by WIRES volunteers in Merimbula, Australia January 9, 2020. | Photo: Reuters

Published 9 January 2020

Environmental activists and communities are pitching in together to save as many animals as possible.

Australia's Smart Animal Sanctuary and Rehoming Center (SMART) has been trying to save camels, alpacas, donkeys, and other animals from wildfires that are destroying the country's ecosystems. The task, however, has not been easy.

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Australia: New Evacuation Alerts as Large Bushfires Regenerate

When the fire threatened the SMART base, people from around the community came and collected animals as the founder of this sanctuary, Lorene Cross, fought to save their home from the blaze. She let camels and cows out of their paddock, so they could escape the flames if need be.

In Batlow, New South Wales, where this animal shelter is located, most people have evacuated over the weekend, but many cats and other domestic animals were left behind.

In response to this situation, the SMART team and other animal lovers have been touring the area to find vulnerable animals, feed them, give them water and keep them alive.

So far there are no official counts of how wildlife has been affected by the deadly bushfires that have destroyed more than 4 million hectares since Sep. 2019.

Nevertheless, according to environmental scientists from the University of Sydney, almost one billion birds, mammals, and reptiles have been lost since the beginning of this environmental catastrophe, which is related to the increase in the seasonal average heat resulting from global climate change.

The fire and heat are either killing the native fauna such as kangaroos, wallabies, and wombats or driving them out of the bushland and into people's homes.

Australia is enduring one of the worst bushfire crises in its history. Thousands have been made homeless and thousands have had to evacuate repeatedly because of the volatility of the fires.

Al least 27 people have died so far and local authorities urged another mass evacuation across the southeast on Thursday.

"If you receive instructions to leave, then you must leave," Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said, adding that it is "the only way to guarantee your safety."

Meanwhile, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology reported only 6 percent of typical annual rainfall last year, while daytime temperatures were more than 2 degrees Celsius above normal.

"Australia's getting warmer, the fire season's getting longer and the severity of the fire weather during that season is getting more frequent and severe," the Bureau of Meteorology’s Manager of Climate Monitoring, Karl Braganza, said.

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