The bushfires affecting Australia in recent weeks have sparked a global crafting effort, as thousands of volunteers unite to knit, crochet and sew shelters for animals affected by the crisis.

Millions of hectares of land have burned in the bushfires, killing an estimated 1 billion animals. As the death toll climbs, many creatures have been orphaned or left without homes.

Young marsupials including possums, koalas and wombats require pouches to grow. Without their mothers they rely on hand-stitched products from donors. Other animals such as flying foxes also require pouches to help their recovery, and rescuers say koalas need mittens for their burnt paws.

The Australia-based Animal Rescue Craft Guild put out a call for these products on its Facebook group, which amassed more than 120,000 members in the subsequent weeks. The effort has attracted donors across Europe, Asia, and from more than 40 US states and Puerto Rico, posts in the group show.

The Rescue Collective, based in Queensland, has partnered with the Animal Rescue Craft Guild to distribute donated items to independent animal carers across the country. The collective has been getting an overwhelming number of requests from rescuers around Australia following the fires, said Rachel Sharples, a volunteer there.

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