At least 1.25 billion animals – even more if you include microscopic species – have died in the wildfires that have raged across Australia since September, destroying over 30,000 square miles of forest and bush. Volunteers all over the world have mobilised to help wildlife sanctuaries deal with the crisis, arming themselves with sewing machines and knitting needles.
The Facebook group Animal Rescue Craft Guild, which has more than 190,000 members, asked volunteers to make little cloth pouches for baby marsupials, including koalas, kangaroos, opossums and wombats, who can’t shelter in their mother’s pouches. They also asked for people to make mittens to help heal koalas’ burned paws.
“I wanted to do something after I saw the images of animals with burns”
Gwladys Nicol, who works in education in Paris, leads a small group of volunteers who are making pouches and nests for animals displaced by Australia’s fires.
It was horrendous to see all of the awful photos of animals with burns. I wanted to do something. I saw posts on social media asking for people to make things for the animals. I liked that idea more than just making a donation.
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I thought of lots of friends who like to sew. As it's difficult to organise several thousand people, I created a small group to share information and coordinate what we were making. I shared the patterns for the pouches in the group. The inside of the pouches need to be made out of natural materials, like cotton, linen or silk, and you need to make several rows of stitches so that they can withstand the animals’ claws.
I’ve already sewn several pouches. Other members of the group have knitted baskets with handles for transporting animals. Others have made little nests for birds whose habitats were destroyed by the fires. For now, we haven’t set any targets, I just told myself that I would make as much as I could with the fabric that I have.
Kangaroo pouches and a wool basket for transporting the animals. Credit : Gwladys Nicol.We haven’t decided yet how we are going to send our creations to Australia. Carcassonne Park in Australia wants to set up a hub where all of the homemade items can be sent. However, we also made direct contact with an organisation in Australia that would allow us to see how our creations are being used. However, it is very expensive to send the items.
Article written by Pierre Hamdi (@PierreHamdi)