Thousands of volunteers come together to make snug pouches and blankets for animals orphaned by Australian bushfires
More than one billion animals have already perished in the raging bushfires, leaving many more injured and orphaned
As bushfires in Australia continue to devastate the country (around 18 million hectares of land have burned to date), there is a growing concern across the globe for the wildlife that has been affected. Current estimates suggesting more than a billion animals have perished so far.
With wildlife rescue centers in Australia packed to capacity and in desperate need of help, some people have now come together to help make the displaced animals a little bit more comfortable.
Volunteers with the Animal Rescue Craft Guild, which has contributors from Italy, the U.S., the U.K., Finland, Singapore and Australia, are sewing and crocheting pouches and blankets for various orphaned and injured animals, from kangaroo joeys to bats and sugar gliders, according to CNN.
Members of the group say they design, sew, make, and recycle "'everything' to make products that help animal rescue including beds, crates, containers and support equipment to help rescuers."
Encouragingly, the group has been growing at a rapid pace. When Avalon Llewellyn, currently a group administrator, had joined towards the middle of 2019, there were just 1,000 members in the group. By January 1, numbers had reached 23,000, and a week later, it's more than 120,000.
What the swell in numbers has meant is that members, who were initially focused on making dog coats and blankets and cat sweaters, can now also work to help a range of other species.
But the work of the group is not by any means random and members have to adhere to a strict set of rules and guidelines. For one, joey pouches and bat wraps must be hand-sewn. Bird nests, on the other hand, can be crocheted, but must still follow the templates provided and made with cotton or linen. As a general rule, softer the material, the better.
Furthermore, young marsupials such as possums and koalas -- whose population has been cut by a third -- and wombats require pouches to grow, and if they have lost their mothers, they rely entirely on the hand-stitched products to survive.
The group has seen its efforts pay off, with more than 5,000 bat wraps, as well as thousands of joey pouches, blankets and towels, making their way to Australia just last week.
"It's bringing together isolated members of the community, repurposing old sheets and linen and really give purpose to people who feel helpless," Llewellyn said.