Lewis Hamilton

British racing driver and six-time Formula One World Champion, Lewis Hamilton has pledged $500,000 to “support the animals, wildlife volunteers, and rural fire services” affected by the bushfire crisis in Australia.

Hamilton took to his Twitter page to announce the donation on Thursday.

“It breaks my heart to see the devastation the Australian bushfires are causing to people and animals across the country. 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,” he tweeted.

The catastrophic bushfires have killed at least 26 people, destroyed more than 2,000 homes and scorched some eight million hectares (80,000 square kilometres).

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The 35-year-old Briton’s message was accompanied by a video of a koala bear being rescued from flames.

University of Sydney scientists estimate one billion animals have lost their lives in the fires. The figure includes mammals, birds and reptiles, but not frogs, insects or invertebrates.

In a separate post on Instagram Hamilton wrote: “It saddens me deeply to know that over 1 billion animals in Australia died a painful death, no way out, not their fault.”

“My love of animals is no secret and I can’t help but grieve for the defenseless animals thought to have died so far, pushing certain species closer to extinction.”

He urged Australia to “keep fighting”. “I’m lucky enough to visit Australia often and I know first-hand how beautiful the country is.”

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It saddens me deeply to know that over 1 billion animals in Australia died a painful death, no way out, not their fault. My love of animals is no secret and I can’t help but grieve for the defenceless animals thought to have died so far, pushing certain species closer to extinction. I’m lucky enough to visit Australia often and I know first-hand how beautiful the country is. Keep fighting Australia. I’ve spent some time speaking to people in Australia who are working at the heart of this and I’m filled with admiration for everything they are doing. I implore you to join me in thinking about the impact we are having on our planet. Let’s work together to make small changes, and encourage our family and friends to do the same, so we can help shift the direction we’re going in. I’m donating $500K to support @wireswildliferescue @wwf_australia and the Rural Fire Services. If you are able and haven’t already, you can donate too. Every little helps. Animals: @wireswildliferescue @wwf_australia Rural Fire Services: @nswrfs @cfavic @rfbaq @dfes_wa @cfsfoundation #TasmanianFireService #PrayingForAustralia

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