The Animal Rescue Craft Guild organized the worldwide effort. If you know how to knit, crochet, or sew, you can join in.

January 09, 2020

This story originally appeared on by Kelly Vaughan.

To help the animals that have been affected by the Australian wildfires, tens of thousands of crafters from all across the world have been knitting protective gear for native wildlife, the Huffington Post reports. The Animal Rescue Craft Guild, which has nearly 150,000 members on Facebook, is a community of crafters that creates handmade blankets, mittens, pouches, and other forms of shelter for animals affected by crises. Since many young marsupials, including possums, koalas, and wombats, have been separated from their mothers, these animals are now relying on hand-sewn or knit pouches for recovery. Rescuers say mittens have also helped to protect and heal the burnt paws of koalas.

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Ecologists at the University of Sydney estimate that half a billion animals have been affected by the wildfires and millions are dead, and these numbers don't includ insects and frogs. In December, federal environmental minister Sussan Ley said that nearly a third of the koalas' habitat in New South Wales has been destroyed, an estimate that has likely grown.

The Rescue Collective, a Queensland-based animal rescue mission, partnered with The Animal Rescue Craft Guild to distribute the handmade materials to animal care centers across Australia. Crafters all across the globe, including those in the United States, Germany, and China, have shared photos and patterns on Facebook for other users to use as inspiration.

"Australia has a lot of iconic and lovable animals," Rachel Sharples, a volunteer rescuer, told The Guardian. "I think that for people to physically be able to create something, to physically create an item they know an animal will use, resonates with people more so than a cash donation and that is why we have set that up as an option or a way to help."