Over 1 Billion Animals May Have Died In The Ravaging Australian Wildfires, Says Expert

Over 1 Billion Animals May Have Died In The Ravaging Australian Wildfires, Says Expert

The previous estimates of animals killed in the bushfires were just restricted to the New South Wales region and the total number of animals feared to be dead is now over a billion, said an ecologist.

The Australian bushfires have claimed the lives of over a billion animals now and this number is said to be a conservative estimate. The actual loss of wildlife is said to be much higher. Previous reports that stated over 480 million animals had died in the bushfires have been clarified to be restricted to the New South Wales region alone.  But the overall deaths from across the continent are much higher, say experts. 



The fires have been torching down Australia since September with no signs of slowing down. “The original figure ― the 480 million ― was based on mammals, birds, and reptiles for which we do have densities, and that figure now is a little bit out of date. It’s over 800 million given the extent of the fires now ― in New South Wales alone,” Chris Dickman, an ecologist at the University of Sydney, told HuffPost. “If 800 million sounds a lot, it’s not all the animals in the firing line,” he added stating that population data for a lot of wildlife was not even available. 



Heartbreaking images of kangaroos trying to escape the raging fires have been surfacing online. But koalas do not have that advantage and are being charred to death on eucalyptus trees, putting their existence in the near future at risk. “It may well be up to 30 percent of the population in that region [was killed], because up to 30 percent of their habitat has been destroyed,” Sussan Ley, Australia’s environment minister said of the death of 8,000 koalas in the bushfires.



"Certainly, large animals, like kangaroos or emus - many birds, of course - will be able to move away from the fire as it approaches," Dickman told BBC Breakfast. "I guess it's the less mobile species and the smaller ones that depend on the forest itself that are really in the firing line." In a statement released by the University of Australia, Dickman elaborates on how the estimates about the animal population were being made and that the calculations were made employing highly conservative estimates. 



"NSW’s wildlife is seriously threatened and under increasing pressure from a range of threats, including land clearing, exotic pests, and climate change," the statement said. With over 300 species of native flora and fauna, Australia has a diverse wildlife population. But the same has been facing a rapid extinction in the previous 200 years.

"It seems extremely unlikely that the majority of the animals affected by fire are actually killed, though we may still ask whether they will survive longer-term," said Colin Beale, an ecologist from the University of York. 


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