Recent fires in Australia killed or harmed three billion animals’

Last summer, massive fires spread across every Australian state, burning forests and causing the death of up to 33 people or more. Mammals, reptiles, birds, and frogs perished either in the fire or from habitat destruction.

Australia's fires 'killed or harmed three billion animals'
flickr/photos/graham

Recent fires in Australia that erupted last year reportedly killed about three billion animals.

The report also indicated that it is one of the “worst ecological catastrophes in modern history.” The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is responsible for commissioning the report.

Last summer, massive fires spread across every Australian state, burning forests and causing the death of up to 33 people or more. Mammals, reptiles, birds, and frogs perished either in the fire or from habitat destruction.

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Researchers claimed 1,25 billion animals were killed in New South Wales and Victoria alone during the height of disaster in January. But a wider area brings in a new estimate of animal deaths. Between September and February, about 11.46 million hectares-a region equivalent to England-were burned.

What was the impact of the fires?

“It’s absolutely huge when you consider that nearly three billion native animals were in the fire’s path – it’s a difficult number to grasp,” said Prof. Chris Dickman. He oversaw the experiment of ten Australian university scientists.

He said they have still not been able to state a precise death toll. However, he acknowledged that the odds of animals fleeing the blazes and living were not that high. And it’s most likely because of a lack of food and shelter.

The figures are based on pre-disaster population counts and population density for the animals.

Data limitations ensured that the results did not include other groups-such as invertebrates, fish, and turtles.

Throughout February, after the bushfires, the Australian government reported 113 animal species that needed “urgent help.”

In the temperate forests and grasslands of the south and east of Australia, approximately all on the list lost at least 30 percent of their habitat.

Koalas and wallabies – as well as species of birds, fishes, and frogs-were part of those most in need of assistance, experts said.

The government has promised A$ 50 m (£27m;$35 m) for the recovery of wildlife and habitat, but campaigners have called for Australia to improve its conservation laws.

Australia is undertaking a royal commission inquiry into the fires, with reports expected in October.

Researchers who said the increased magnitude and intensity of the blazes are a product of climate change. 

Researchers have claimed that more than 445 fatalities were related to smoke from the fires.

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