The Australian bushfires, which have been raging since last September, will not subside until there is significant rainfall, it has been warned. 25.5 million acres of land across the country has been destroyed. 28 people have so far been reported to have tragically died, with hundreds of thousands more displaced and evacuated.
Approximately 1 billion animals across the beleaguered nation have been estimated to have been killed. The area of the smoke plume, said to register at 1.3 billion acres, can be seen from space and equals an area of the eleven largest states in the US combined. 70% of the country is engulfed in a haze of smoke with 400 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emitted (stats from The Insider).
Last week, just days into the new year, it was reported that Australian native and tennis star Nick Kyrgios would be donating 200 Australian dollars for every ace he hits on the court throughout January and into the Australian summer. Similarly, from the footballing world, his compatriot Mat Ryan of Premier League side Brighton & Hove Albion has said he will donate $500 (£263) for every save made by a Premier League goalkeeper across the ten fixtures this weekend.
Kyrgios’ fellow players on the tennis circuit, 16-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic and career Grand Slam holder Maria Sharapova have both pledged $17,000. Women’s world number one Ashleigh Barty has vowed to transfer all her prize money from the Brisbane International tennis tournament to the Red Cross and their bushfire appeal. The Queensland-born pro has already submitted $30,000 to the besieged RSPCA struggling to cope with the huge amount of losses of wildlife: 25,000 koalas were estimated to have been killed on Kangaroo Island, to the south-west of the continent.
On January 15 at the Rod Laver Arena, Roger Federer, Serena Williams Rafael Nadal, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Naomi Osaka, Caroline Wozniacki, and Kygios will all take part in an exhibition match to also raise funds for the ongoing fight.
Six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton also announced his own donation via social media: “It breaks my heart to see the devastation the Australian bushfires are causing to people and animals across the country.” the Brit expressed on Twitter. “I’m pledging $500k to support the animals, wildlife volunteers and rural fire services. If you are able to, and you haven’t already then you can donate too.”
Aussie cricketing hero Shane Warne has raised over one million Australian dollars for aid and disaster relief by auctioning off his cap from his 145-Test career with the Baggy Greens. The current Australian cricket team announced that they would be auctioning off their playing shirts from the Boxing Day Test against New Zealand to raise funds for bushfire victims.
In addition, NBA star Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers has collaborated with eight other basketballers hailing from Oz to provide a combined 750,000 Australian dollars towards the fire relief.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg. The prominent figures will garner the attention, but more credit should be granted to the citizens on the ground continuously battling against the impossible, an un-abating fireline of almost unimaginable length, including the 70,000 people in the New South Wales Rural Fire Service who are mostly unpaid.