Hamilton steps up to donate to Australian bushfire relief

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Lewis Hamilton has donated $500,000 to Australian wildlife charities and rural fire services battling the country's massive bushfire crisis.

The six-time Formula 1 world champion took to social media on Thursday to pledge his donation, a gesture that will perhaps incite his colleagues and other prominent F1 personalities to follow suit.

Spurred by high temperatures, wind and a three-year drought, the bushfire crisis escalated dramatically at the end of December, with Victoria and New South Wales bearing the brunt of the disaster.

While loss of human life has been limited, the crisis has taken a massive toll on the southern states' wildlife, land and homes. On Kangaroo Island, a haven for wildlife, strong winds amplified the blazes, threatening to wipe several towns off the face of the map.

"It breaks my heart to see the devastation the Australian bushfires are causing to people and animals across the country," Hamilton wrote on Twitter.

"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."

The Mercedes driver reiterated his call for donations on Instagram.

"It saddens me deeply to know that over 1 billion animals in Australia died a painful death, no way out, not their fault," he wrote in a post.

"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."