Artist's koala painting benefits wildlife affected by Australian bushfires
PUBLISHED: 12:49 23 January 2020 | UPDATED: 16:10 23 January 2020
When wildlife artist Emily Rose heard about the devastating impact of the Australian bushfires on millions of mammals, reptiles and birds, she was desperate to do something to help.
So, inspired by videos of koalas being rescued by volunteers, she put her creative talents to good use, producing a painting of one of the cuddly creatures to be auctioned off in aid of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
"It was just awful," the former Sheringham High School student said. "The burns, the koalas' expressions of bewilderment, their helplessness and their thirst was terrible."
Chatting to her great aunt, who lives in Australia, Ms Rose, 23, also heard about the black ash covering houses along the coastline.
"I have visited in the past few years and knowing the places which are being burnt away somehow makes it more real," she said.
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According to WWF estimates, 1.25 billion animals have been killed by the fires, with millions more injured or homeless.
Around 30pc of the koala population of the southern coast of New South Wales has been lost, with many other animals including wombats, wallabies, kookaburras and echidnas also either burnt to death, injured or at risk of dying from lack of food and shelter.
Ms Rose, who juggles producing her own work with running workshops and painting courses, studied fine art at Lincoln University before setting up her own business working from a studio in her parents' West Runton garden.
A animal-lover since childhood, she said that the "unfairness" of the Australian animals' plight prompted her to do something to help, adding: "We have inflicted much of these extreme changes, but we cannot explain it to the wildlife that are on the front line, so that was why I chose the WWF who, along with many other charities, are helping to rescue the animals and will help to rebuild their habitats after the fires."
Ms Rose's koala painting was sold via an online auction and, with more than 200 people entering a raffle for a second picture, of a kookaburra, she raised a total of £440.
"By chance, the painting was won by my uncle, but he has suggested it gets re-donated to raise more money," she said. "I have family in who have a a gallery in Australia, so I'm hoping they will auction and continue raising funds there."