- Chris Dickman, an ecologist at the University of Sydney, told HuffPost that more than 1 billion animals are now feared dead in Australia’s bushfires.
- The fires are burning across five states in Australia, and have razed 9.9 million acres since September.
- It was estimated last week that half a billion animals had died in the fires. Dickman said the estimation was conservative, and limited to the state of New South Wales.
- Additionally, Dickman said researchers don’t have accurate population data for some animals, so it’s hard to know how many have died.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The number of animals feared dead in Australia’s devastating bushfires has soared from 500,000 to more than 1 billion.
Chris Dickman, an ecologist at the University of Sydney, told HuffPost that last week’s estimation that 480 million mammals, birds, and reptiles were feared dead was a conservative estimation and exclusive to the state of New South Wales.
He said as of now, 800 million animals were feared in New South Wales alone. Dickman said researchers don’t have population data for multiple animals, including bats, frogs, and invertebrates, which makes it difficult to know how many have died.
Outside New South Wales, Dickman says, millions of others have likely died.
“Over a billion would be a very conservative figure,” he told HuffPost.
Hundreds of fires have razed more than 9.9 million acres across five states in Australia since September. At least 20 people have died.
An environmental scientist at the World Wildlife Fund Australia, Stuart Blanch, told HuffPost that the fires could wipe out some endangered species, including the southern corroboree frog and mountain pygmy-possum.
Tracy Burgess, a volunteer at Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Services, told Reuters that rescuers fear many animals aren’t escaping the fires.
“Our concern is that they don’t come into care because they’re not there anymore, basically,” she said.
- Photo by Rick Stevens/The Sydney Morning Herald/Fairfax Media via Getty Images via Getty Images
Nature Conservation Council ecologist Mark Graham told parliament in December that koalas can’t move fast enough to escape the fires. Koalas also eat leaves from eucalyptus trees, which are highly flammable.
Tens of thousands of koalas are feared dead on Kangaroo Island alone.
Livestock, too, is being affected by the fires. Photos published by ABC show cows dead on the sides of roads and in the midst of bushfires.
— ABCcameramatt (@ABCcameramatt) January 5, 2020
Rescuers across the country have shared videos and photos of burned and dehydrated animals being cared for and fed by local residents.
The wildlife hospital’s patients includes possums, grey-headed flying foxes, and more.
- Read more:
- Chris Hemsworth and his family are donating $1 million to Australia fire relief efforts
- Surreal photos show smoke from Australia’s bushfires turning the sky in New Zealand orange – 1,200 miles away
- An Instagram model deactivated her account after posting a wet T-shirt photo to promote Australian bushfire relief efforts
- Terrifying video shows Australian air force pilots flying through a haze of orange smoke that prevented them from completing a bushfire rescue mission