Monsterous bushfires across Australia continue to spread. 

Australia is in the midst of a seriously devastating wildfire season, and many of the fires are burning out of control as temperatures continue to soar. The near-future weather forecast is looking grim for affected areas and could cause flames to be unpredictable and fast-moving, according to Australia has been dealing with devastating fires since September, and January and February are the nation's hottest months.

In the latest bushfire-affected areas of Victoria and New South Wales (NSW), eight people are confirmed dead, with more missing, and thousands of people have been displaced after their homes have burned. Tens of thousands of residents have been put on mandatory evacuation, leaving the fate of their homes to Mother Nature.

To add to the heartbreak, Australia's diverse animal population is taking a huge hit. It's estimated that nearly a half-billion animals have been affected so fire by the wildfires, according to ecologist Chris Dickman of Sydney University. He related to the Sydney Morning Herald that the estimate didn't include frogs, bats, or insects, so the devastation could be much greater.

New South Wales is home to nearly 30,000 koalas, but recent fires have taken a toll on the animals, destroying a third of their habitat. At least 8,000 koalas have died as a result of recent uncontained fires, as they are often stuck in burning trees, can't move fast enough to escape heavy smoke or flames, or have burned their paws so badly they can't find food. While other animals may have been able to escape, they are having to contend with a lack of food in the barren, burned landscapes.

"Professor Chris Dickman estimates that 480 million animals have been affected since the bushfires in NSW started in September 2019. This figure only relates to the state of NSW. Many of the affected animals are likely to have been killed directly by the fires, with others succumbing later due to the depletion of food and shelter resources and predation from introduced feral cats and red foxes, the University of Sydney said.

How You Can Help

There are several places you can donate to help those affected by the Australian wildfires.

The Australian Red Cross has set up a donation page to help people who have evacuated. You can donate here.

The Australian Salvation Army has also set up a disaster donation fund. You can donate here.

The NSW Rural Fire Service could also use donations to support the local crews battling the blazes. You can donate here.

The Wires Wildlife Rescue Line also rescues and rehabs animals affected by the fires. You can donate here.