More Than One Billion Animals Feared Dead In Australia’s Bushfires
Ecologists now estimate that more than one billion animals have perished in the bushfires blazing across Australia since September, according to HuffPost.
A previous estimate of 480 million animal deaths was conservative and failed to capture the loss of wildlife in all areas affected, Chris Dickman, an ecologist at the University of Sydney, told the publication.
“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million ― was based on mammals, birds and reptiles for which we do have densities, and that figure now is a little bit out of date.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.”
The figure does not include some animals, such as bats, frogs and invertebrates, Dickman said. Including those animals “without any doubt at all” would drive the estimate well past one billion, which would become a conservative estimate, he said.
Some species currently at risk of extinction, such as the southern corroboree frog and mountain pygmy-possum, could be entirely wiped out, HuffPost reported, adding that: “Threatened species, such as the glossy black cockatoo, spotted-tail quoll and long-footed potoroo (both small marsupials), are also facing real risks of extinction in large parts of their range.”
And some species have been hit harder than others: “Koalas have lost more than 30% of their key habitat in New South Wales and may have lost a third of their population in that region, federal environment minister Sussan Ley told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. last month.”
Dickman said it could be incredibly difficult for the animal population to make a solid comeback, depending on how much of their habitat is eliminated.
The fires have also killed at least 25 people and “destroyed or damaged more than 2,000 homes and burned nearly 31,000 square miles ― an area about the size of Austria.”