Burning over 37 million acres of bushland and forest, and leaving at least 1 billion animals dead or shelterless, this Australian fire season will not be forgotten soon. Raging fires have devastated the country, leaving scorched earth on an unimaginary scale.
Over 1 billion animals are estimated to have been killed in the fires, among them some of Australia’s biggest symbols - Koalas and kangaroos. Lewis the koala became one of these icons. The injured koala was spotted trying to escape the fires and was saved by the selfless act of a courageous woman who rushed to his rescue. Unfortunately, the medical staff was not able to save Lewis and he was pronounced dead a few days after his daring rescue.
In another instance, firefighters described the horror of watching kangaroos rushing out of the bush on fire, then drop dead on the road. A scene described as “something we’ve ever seen before”. Kangaroos are fast-moving animals and the fact that they could not manage to escape the flames testifies to the intensity and speed of the fires.
Bushfires are a part of life in Australia, but the scale of these fires is unprecedented. Every state has dealt with the fires this season with New South Wales and Queensland being the two most affected. Luckily, new reforestation efforts are well on their way. Our planting partner nurseries have started growing local tree species indigenous to specific areas. Soil experts and botanists have been surveying ecosystems, deciding what to plant and where.
While recent rains have made it possible for firefighters to contain most fires, in some areas the fires still burn. Australia will pull through but the scars will remain. In what used to be pristine wilderness teeming with life and ringing with birdsong there is now silence. The music of the forest is gone for now, but hopefully and with a little help, not for long.