21 Jan 2020


WWF’s Australian Wildlife and Nature Recovery Fund is helping care for injured wildlife impacted by bushfires and restore habitat that has been lost. Here’s how...

UPDATED: 4 May 2020

WWF-Australia is greatly saddened by the loss of life in the bushfire tragedy gripping Australia. Our hearts go out to the families who have lost loved ones and the communities who have lost homes and possessions.

We have been deeply touched by the incredible generosity shown by supporters and partners across the country and around the world in support of Australia’s wildlife.

During this unprecedented, catastrophic bushfire season, over 12 million hectares of forest have been burnt, and an estimated 1.25 billion animals killed, pushing many of our threatened species, including the koala, to the brink of extinction.

WWF’s Australian Wildlife and Nature Recovery Fund has been established to deliver support to wildlife and habitats impacted by the bushfires.

We are working around the clock to process donations and provide funds and support where they are needed most.

So far in 2020, we have partnered with over 40 organisations dedicated to the rescue and care for injured wildlife. As well, we are working with governments, businesses, scientists and communities to ensure long-term plans and projects are in place to restore and protect critical wildlife habitat.

Our immediate response

Missy the koala detection dog with Olivia - Director of OWAD Environment
© WWF-Australia / Veronica Joseph

WWF-Australia has partnered with wildlife rescue and care organisations in bushfire zones and is directing funds to respond to the emergency at scale. This includes:

  • Urgent care: supporting specialist veterinarians who are providing 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 fire-affected areas.
  • Supplies and triage: getting veterinary supplies to bushfire triage sites.

As of 5 February 2020, we have partnered with over 40 front line organisations rescuing and treating injured wildlife in bushfire impacted areas as well as projects to start the recovery process.

We’ll continue to update this page with information about where funds are deployed.

New South Wales/ACT

  • Friends of the Koala, Lismore: funding supplies, such as an ultrasound machine, and building more koala housing to expand the capacity of the in-house clinic so that more koalas can be cared for on-site, minimising the stress on already impacted, injured animals.
  • Biolink: surveying burnt forests in the North Coast fire-affected area. Rapid searches by trained ecologists locate koala scats at the base of koala feed trees. If koala scats are found, searches of the trees are made to try to locate koalas.
  • Ecological Australia: will undertake rapid assessments of the impacts of the bushfires on reptiles, birds, mammals and potentially frogs across four areas in the North Coast fire-affected area. 
  • Drone detection of koalas: US drone operator and cinematographer Douglas Thron is testing his hi-tech drone-mounted infrared camera to rapidly search burnt forests to locate koalas and other mammals that may require rescuing.
  • Wildcare Queanbeyan: providing food drops and veterinarian medical supplies in response to the Black Range fire in Tallaganda National Park, NSW, home of eastern grey kangaroos, swamp wallabies, red-necked wallabies, possums and gliders, including the threatened greater glider.
  • Rewilding Aust Booderee - Jervis Bay ACT: supporting the ‘Quoll Protection and Fire Preparedness Plan’. The plan aims at building the resiliency of the reintroduced population in Booderee National Park to impacts of current and future fires and to increase the survival of reintroduced quolls and their offspring.
  • Woolworths and Foodbank: funding the cost of the helicopter for aerial food drops during February 2020. Woolworths and Foodbank have partnered to provide the tens of thousands of carrots and sweet potatoes for the drops. The status of each wallaby colony will continue to be monitored and assess the need for further food drops.
  • ACT Wildlife: supporting to purchase specialist foods and accommodation facilities for animals in their care, conduct food drop and monitoring visits for wombats in fire-affected areas, conduct training for additional volunteers and continue to grow the capacity of the organisation to respond to future fires.
  • Bangalow Koalas: funding revegetation of native vegetation in northeast NSW to plant 3,500 tree seedlings to create habitat for koalas and other wildlife and establish critically endangered lowland subtropical rainforest. The trees will be planted between April and July.
  • Jali Local Aboriginal Council: supporting purchase of equipment for rangers to survey and assess the impact of fires on Ngunya Jargoon Indigenous Protected Area (IPA). The area covers over 1,114 hectares of Lower Richmond Valley (North Coast of NSW). WWF funding also allows for purchase of equipment for rangers to detect wildlife and record the presence of threatened species.
  • Total Environment Centre (TEC): funding to advocate for protection of habitat for nationally significant MacArthur koala population, Campbelltown, southwest Sydney.
  • The Great Eastern Ranges Initiative (GER): providing funding and support for projects to restore habitat and assist movement of koalas and other forest-dependent species (i.e. greater gliders and spotted-tailed quolls). These projects will take place in strategic locations across the Great Eastern Ranges - from western Victoria through NSW and the ACT and up to Far North Queensland.
  • Ecotourism Australia ACT: partnering to fund support for six bushfire-affected communities to rebuild their tourism industries in environmentally sustainable and culturally responsible ways. Over two years provide financial assistance for these communities to be certified as ECO Destinations and provide toolkits and workshops so they can make the most of nature-based tourism opportunities.


  • RSPCA Queensland: providing support to the leading wildlife care facility during the recent bushfires in Queensland to enable urgent treatment and ongoing care for the huge influx of injured wildlife, in particular koalas.
  • OWAD Koala Detection Dogs: koala detection dogs "Taz" and "Missy" are being deployed to burnt forests around Cunningham's Gap, west of Brisbane, to rapidly locate koalas which may be at risk from starvation, dehydration and disease from infected burns.

South Australia

  • Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife: leading the response to save the remaining endangered Kangaroo Island dunnarts, which due to the fires may now be on the very brink of extinction.
  • Nature Foundation SA: provide urgent support for the endangered Kangaroo Island glossy black cockatoo. About half of the glossy's habitat has been lost, including critical breeding sites.


  • Zoos Victoria Australian Wildlife Health Centre: assisted in the evacuation of priority threatened species and supporting the ongoing care of koalas from the Mallacoota fire. Funds also supported the set-up of wildlife triage sites directly within fire-affected areas.
  • Phillip Island Nature Park: providing critical care rehabilitation for koala burn victims from the Mallacoota area that have completed intensive care at Healesville Sanctuary. PINP rehabilitation facilities have the ability to house koalas as well as threatened ground-dwelling species, such as bandicoots and potoroos. Three of the enclosures were funded by WWF-Australia.

Western Australia

  • Native Animal Rescue: providing back feeding and water supplies for fire-affected kangaroos and wallabies, over the next 12 months, as well as feeding and rehabilitation for injured black cockatoos and orphaned wildlife.
  • FAWNA Inc: supporting the provision of much-needed emergency supplies required for animals found during black walks, as well as back-feeding and watering that is going to be desperately needed to help the surviving animals.


  • Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary: providing urgent medical care and rehabilitation to injured animals through the dedicated wildlife clinic.

This is just the beginning. Over the coming weeks, we will continue to deliver emergency response funds to field partners in fire-affected areas.

Who we work with 

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.

To ensure your donation has the most impact, WWF-Australia ensures 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.

Habitat restoration for people and nature

WWF-Australia joins a community tree planting event at Cook Reserve Ruse, Campelltown, May 2019
© WWF-Australia / Leonie Sii

The devastation to our natural environment caused by the bushfires has been unprecedented and the recovery work ahead is immense. Over the coming months and years, funds will be used to:

  • Assess the loss: enable the ongoing assessment of the impacts on wildlife and their habitats.
  • Restore wildlife habitat: once the fire clears, restore what has been lost and protect remaining wildlife habitat from deforestation through our Towards Two Billion Trees plan.
  • Support Indigenous and rural fire management.

Future-proofing Australia

The full extent of damage will remain unknown until the fires subside. While we may not have enough details for a complete solution yet, we do know that we must deliver a national wildlife and nature recovery plan. Your donations help us:

  • Strengthen policy: allow us to work with governments to strengthen climate policy and biodiversity laws.
  • Species adaptation: support long-term conservation efforts for Australia’s native wildlife.
  • Secure Australia’s natural resources: ensure that Australia’s precious natural resources are protected for people and nature.
  • Innovate: explore and implement innovative solutions to help mitigate the impact of climate change and drive climate preparedness.

Support costs

Every donation we receive is critical to helping WWF-Australia respond to this unprecedented emergency, not just today but over the coming months and years as we work to deliver a national wildlife and nature recovery plan.

We are committed to ensuring your donation makes a difference. No more than 10 cents in every dollar donated to WWF’s Australian Wildlife and Nature Recovery Fund will go towards the support costs necessary to administer our national rescue and recovery operation.

Delivering a response at this scale requires the skills and resources of the entire organisation: from our conservation scientists, ecologists, field teams and policy and legal experts, to the team that answers your calls and emails, accepts and deploys your donations and keeps you up-to-date with the latest news from the field.

We share your determination to use all funds received to achieve the best possible outcome for our native animals and habitats, and we are doing everything possible, including working with our partners on providing pro bono support, to keep costs to a minimum.

As we learn more about the impact of this disaster and what we need to do to put our wildlife and forests on the road to recovery, we will keep you informed of our plans and report back on what we - thanks to your incredible support - have been able to achieve.

Thank you, from all of us at WWF-Australia for your support.

We cannot do what we do without you.

If you would like to contribute to WWF’s Australian Wildlife and Nature Recovery Fund: