Over 1 Billion Animals Feared To Be Dead In The Australian Wildfires

Over 1 Billion Animals Feared To Be Dead In The Australian Wildfires

The fires across Australia have killed 25 people, destroyed or damaged more than 2,000 homes and over 1 billion animals have lost their lives.

Image Source: Alexander S. James/ Getty Images/ Creative

The fires ravaging through Australia have caused mass destruction to property and habitat and it is estimated that nearly one billion animals have lost their lives, according to HuffPost. Chris Dickman, an ecologist at the University of Sydney, said that his original estimate of  480 million animals was conservative and also exclusive to the state of New South Wales. He also added that significant groups of wildlife were excluded as they had no population data. “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million ― was based on mammals, birds, and reptiles for which we do have densities, and that figure now is a little bit out of date.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,” he said.


“If 800 million sounds a lot, it’s not all the animals in the firing line,” he added. This figure excludes animals including bats, frogs, and invertebrates. When you include all these animals, too, Dickman said, it was “without any doubt at all” that the losses exceeded 1 billion. “Over a billion would be a very conservative figure,” he said. An environmental scientist at the World Wildlife Fund Australia, Stuart Blanch, also confirmed these estimates.


Blanch also added that considering the expansion of the fires since the time it was last calculated, 1 billion is a modest guess. “It’s our climate impact and our obsession with coal that is helping wage war on our own country,” Blanch said. There are high chances that critically endangered species, including the southern corroboree frog and mountain pygmy-possum, could be wiped out as fires destroy significant territory in Victoria’s Alpine National Park and New South Wales’s neighboring Kosciuszko National Park.


Threatened species, such as the glossy black cockatoo, spotted-tail quoll and long-footed potoroo (both small marsupials) are also facing serious risks of extinction in large parts of their range. Dickman mentioned that bats, which are in enormous numbers along Australia’s east coast and are critically dependent on forest habitat, have also sustained enormous losses, undoubtedly. “The numbers would have to be huge. And they’re very susceptible to the fires,” he said.


The fires across Australia have killed 25 people, destroyed or damaged more than 2,000 homes and burned nearly 31,000 square miles ― an area about the size of Austria. Agriculture market analysis company Mecardo came up with stats that showed 8.6 million head of sheep and 2.3 million cattle in New South Wales and Victoria regions have been affected. It could take months before the exact number of livestock losses are known.


Dickman then went on to add that the last sliver of hope amidst this horrible disaster was that the government may finally listen to the advice of ecologists and environmental scientists, who he said had been left out of policymaking for over two decades. “With any luck, now the government will actually come back and think, OK, we do need science. We do need the modeling predictions. We do need really good, informed advice about what we should be doing.”


WWF Australia’s environmental scientists have also outlined a three-part plan to address the crisis, Blanch added. “One, reduce the threat by ending logging or bulldozing of mature forests... Secondly, a 10 million hectare major reforestation agenda, and, thirdly, in the very short term, more support for wildlife carers and wildlife hospitals around the country.” The rains have brought a bit of respite, but there's a lot more that needs to be done. Australia needs your prayers and help. Please donate in any way that you can. 


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