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© Mattywilliamsphoto, © WWF-Australia / Sii Studio, © Ryan Pollock, © WWF-Australia / Milk Truck Cinemas

Emergency response

Wildlife response and rescue at scale during Australia's 2019-20 bushfires.

Maryanne the koala

Emergency response to the Australian bushfires

The bushfires that Australia experienced in the summer of 2019-20 were truly devastating.

The world witnessed the horrific images of koalas, kangaroos and other iconic Australian wildlife as they tried to escape the infernos. Sadly, over 12.6 million hectares of forest and bushland were scorched and nearly 3 billion animals impacted. Those that survived were left with no shelter, food or water.

Thanks to generous donations, during the height of the bushfires we were able to partner with and provide emergency funding to over 40 wildlife rescue and care organisations across Australia. This enabled quick and effective response at scale, so that as much wildlife as possible could be saved and rehabilitated.

While there were many stories of tragedy, there were also stories of hope made possible by the brave first responders, rescuers, carers and vets on the front line who worked tirelessly around the clock to save our native wildlife.

Australia's nature laws are undergoing a once-in-10-year review. We already lost so much in the fires - will you ask your local politician to protect our wildlife and their remaining homes?



Orphaned swamp wallaby joey at Milton Village Vet © WWF-Australia / Leonie Sii

© WWF-Australia / Leonie Sii

What WWF-Australia’s emergency response looks like

In a disaster of this scale, no one organisation can meet the needs of all the wildlife across the country, but there are many incredible groups doing critical and important work on the front line.

WWF-Australia partnered with over 40 wildlife rescue and care organisations in bushfire zones and directed immediate and urgent funds to respond to the emergency at scale.

This included:


  • Urgent care: supporting specialist veterinarians who provided, and are still providing, ongoing care and medical treatment to injured wildlife across Australia.
  • Food and water: providing starving wildlife with food and water in bushfire-impacted regions.
  • Finding koalas and other fire-affected wildlife: deploying koala detection dogs and drones to bushfire sites to search for surviving koalas and conducting rapid threatened species assessments in affected areas.
  • Supplies and triage: getting veterinary supplies to bushfire triage sites.

Find out more about our emergency response partners here.
Dermot O\

© WWF-Australia / Matthew Harris

Who we work with

To ensure your donation has the most impact, WWF-Australia confirms that all of its emergency wildlife response partners receiving support from WWF’s Australian Wildlife and Nature Recovery Fund, meet the following due diligence criteria.


A WWF-Australia Emergency Wildlife Response Partner:


  1. Has a reputation for efficiency, effectiveness, solvency and strong track record in relation to its treatment of animals;
  2. Has well-considered rescue and release protocols;
  3. Can confirm that its euthanasia policy or approach is for medical reasons only and that the decision is made by a trained professional;
  4. Has the capacity to scale its response based on the donation (i.e. that any donation will lead to additional benefits);
  5. Is able to assist with science-based species recovery in the future.


We couldn’t do any of this work without the generosity of our supporters in Australia and around the world. Join us on this journey. Together it’s possible.




How we work


The response and rescue efforts as the world came together during Australia’s devastating 2019-20 bushfires.

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Working together to protect wildlife and restore habitats after the fires.

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Securing the future of Australia’s native wildlife and precious natural resources for people and nature.

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