What we learned from Black Summer and what we urgently need to do

‘Black Summer' was a time when lives, properties and billions of animals were lost in the most horrific bushfire conditions.

Thanks to the generous gifts of our supporters, HSI Australia was able to make its first-ever disaster deployment to Kangaroo Island to conduct wildlife search and rescue during the devastating fires.

HSI Australia’s CEO, Erica Martin, and Evan Quartermain, Head of Programs, were part of the deployment, along with international experts from HSI global.

Those were some of the toughest scenes I'd ever witnessed as an animal rescuer: the bodies of charred animals as far as the eye can see. Every time we found an animal alive it felt like a miracle. -Evan Quartermain



Our disaster response around the world

With climate change, we are going to face increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters like the ‘Black Summer’ fires, including floods and cyclones. Humane Society International has decades of experience in emergency search and rescue for animals impacted by natural and catastrophic disasters.

Here are a few examples of how HSI provided vital support to save the lives of animals who desperately needed help.

Rescuing amid the rubble in Nepal

We were there in 2015 when earthquakes shattered so many fragile mountain towns of Nepal. Our teams helped rescue livestock from beneath the rubble and provide treatment to help heal the terrible wounds. In one village our team encountered Mrs Purnima Tamang sheltering in what was left of her home with her eight goats. Our team was able to treat her goats and assist with vital food and shelter.

Call them what you want—my property, my family, my friends—they are all I have left.” -Mrs Purnima Tamang

Salvaging survivors in Mozambique

In 2019, we hit the ground in Mozambique after Cyclone Idai—the worst tropical cyclone ever experienced in Africa—devastated the country. The team treated pigs, goats and puppies helping them get back on their feet and preventing disease outbreaks. Our team also heard heartbreaking stories, including one farmer who watched hopelessly as two sons were swept away. Despite his monumental grief, he still expressed gratitude for our team’s help with his calf which had miraculously survived.

Saving family pets in Lebanon

After the 2020 Beirut explosion, our international disaster team was quickly on the scene. They worked with Animals Lebanon to scour the blast zone to rescue dogs and cats and when possible to reunite them with their owners. Many of the animals were injured and in dire need of medical help. In some cases, their owners were unable to take them immediately because they were injured and have lost their homes, so it is such a relief for them to know their beloved pets are getting cared for as well.


With your help, we can better respond to future disasters as they happen and be ready to act when our wildlife needs our urgent care.


Our disaster response in Australia

As a result of our first-hand experiences on Kangaroo Island, we commissioned an independent report to review the rescue and care of wildlife by organisations and individuals in the bushfires. The aim of the report was to review disaster response across the country for wildlife so we can improve on preparedness for all future events, be it fire, flood or cyclone. The report gave 12 clear recommendations on what we need to better safeguard Australia’s valuable wildlife in the future.

Safeguarding Australia’s Wildlife Recommendations

Read the full report at

Providing the disaster response care our wildlife deserves

At HSI Australia, after the horrors of the Black Summer bushfires and based on the recommendations in the report, we’ve been investing in staff training, emergency field hospitals, and technologies such as thermal drones to enhance our wildlife search and rescue efforts.

Now we need your help to continue to build our disaster response in Australia.

With your help we can make certain that we are better prepared for future disasters. Together we can save more animals and vastly improve survival rates.