Why customers are flooding Coles, Woolworths social media pages with viral image

Customers are urging supermarkets to help Australia’s starving wildlife amid the bushfire crisis, by donating their ‘waste’.

Social media has been inundated with a photo which urges Coles and Woolworths to donate their ‘waste’ fruit and vegetables to “our starving wildlife”.

The plea is embedded on a photo of a kangaroo escaping the flames, believed to have been taken in outer Lithgow in the NSW Central Tablelands by ABC News reporter James Carmody.

“Coles and Woolworths please donate your ‘waste’ fruit and veggies to our starving wildlife who have nothing to eat,” one woman wrote sharing the photo to Facebook.

“Even just sweet potato alone would feed a large variety of our marsupials.

“Charities like WIRES are doing their best to feed them, and I’m sure lots of other wildlife charities need food donations too.”

People have shared the photo to their personal Facebook accounts and the Coles and Woolworths Facebook pages, pleading with the two largest supermarkets in Australia to supply wildlife with waste so they can eat.

Coles says it has donated around one tonne of fresh fruit, vegetables and dry feed for the animals at Mogo Zoo on the NSW south coast. Source: Supplied/Coles

Coles partnering with Mogo Zoo

In a statement to Yahoo News Australia, a Coles spokesperson confirmed the supermarket is donating food to help Australia’s wildlife, partnering with Mogo Zoo near NSW’s Batemans Bay and South Australia’s Adelaide Koala and Wildlife Hospital.

“As the fires burned in Batemans Bay, the Mogo Wildlife team was quickly losing access to food and water for the 200 animals that lived there,” a Coles spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia.

“As soon as we were made aware, Coles donated around one tonne of fresh fruit and vegetables and dry feed for the animals.”

The Mogo Wildlife team lost access to food and water due to bushfires and has received help from Coles. Source: Supplied/Coles

The spokesperson confirmed Coles had donated 1000kg of sweet potatoes which are on their way to the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Network, and approximately 33 tonnes of potatoes and carrots and a 45-foot trailer-load of barley straw square bale delivered to Live Stock SA yesterday.

Woolworths and its customers through the Salvation Army have committed more than $3.2 million to bushfire relief, a spokesperson confirmed to Yahoo News Australia.

“We will continue to look at ways to engage with more community partners in response to the bushfire crisis,” Woolworths said in response to questions from Yahoo News Australia.

“We have a long running and ever expanding food rescue program that sees all of our stores operating one or more food waste diversion methods to avoid food going to landfill. 

“Our Farmer Donation program saw more than 30 million kilograms of surplus produce and bakery waste donated to local farmers, dozens of zoos and animal rescue and welfare centres last year.”

One billion animals dead this bushfire season

Professor Chris Dickman, an Australian mammal expert believes one billion animals have perished in the bushfires this season.

“One billion sounds like a very big number but it's almost certainly an under-estimate because of the groups I don't include,” the University of Sydney academic told AAP on Thursday.

Bats, frogs and invertebrates haven't been included in the estimate.

Adelaide wildlife rescuer Simon Adamczyk is seen with a koala rescued at a burning forest near near Cape Borda on Kangaroo Island. Source: AAP Image/David Mariuz

Dr Christine Hosking from the University of Queensland's Global Change Institute agreed with Professor Dickman’s estimate, saying it was “very reasonable”, while speaking to how the food chain has been disrupted.

As for the wildlife that has not yet perished in the deadly blazes currently engulfing Australia, Dr Hosking said more animals will die due to the lack of food and the barren landscapes, which leave small mammals vulnerable to predators.

"The whole food chain is affected," Dr Hosking told AAP on Thursday.

"These forests will remain empty for quite a long time."

How to help wildlife after a bushfire

Usually people are discouraged from feeding wildlife, but the drought and bushfires have deprived birds and animals of their food sources.

Registered wildlife carer and Yahoo News journalist, Michael Dahlstrom recommends leaving out bowls of water for animals and to place sticks and stones in the dish, to help small animals get out if they fall in.

It is believed over a billion animals have died in the bushfires this season. Source: CPOA Brett Kennedy/Commonwealth of Australia/PA Wire

Bird feed can also be left out in areas where wildlife is safe from predators and suggests leaving dogs and cats inside so they don’t harm fleeing wildlife.

If animals are found to be sick or injured, call a registered wildlife carer or your local wildlife organisation.

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