Australia's bushfires have killed over 1 billion animals with numerous species facing extinction, say experts

The bushfires raging across Australia have already burned more than 15 million acres of land and killed at least 25 people

                            Australia's bushfires have killed over 1 billion animals with numerous species facing extinction, say experts
(Getty Images)

The scale of devastation caused by the raging bushfires across Australia is unprecedented, with reports indicating that the flames have killed as many as 1 billion animals in the past few months, beginning from September 2019.

MEAWW previously reported that the 130-odd fires burning across New South Wales and Victoria had claimed the lives of 480 million mammals, birds, and reptiles, but it seems as though that number was just a conservative estimate.

Speaking to the Huffington Post, Chris Dickman, an ecologist at the University of Sydney who had come up with the previous figure, admitted it was "now a little bit out of date."

That number was based on a 12-year-old report for the World Wide Fund for Nature about the impacts of land-clearing on the New South Wales' wildlife. The authors were looking at previously published studies to estimate animal population densities in the state and then multiplying the densities by areas of vegetation approved foe clearing.

However, Dickman said the fear was now that the number was over 800 million. "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million ― was based on mammals, birds, and reptiles for which we do have densities, and that figure now is a little bit out of date," he explained. "It’s over 800 million given the extent of the fires now ― in New South Wales alone."

Earlier the 800 million figure included only mammals, birds, and reptiles, it is now inclusive of bats, frogs, and invertebrates that had been previously unaccounted for, Dickman said "without any doubt at all" that the death count exceeded one billion.

More concerningly, the billion figure could prove to be a conservative estimate as well, with the fires now not just confined to NSW and Victoria, but also spreading to other parts of the country.

Over 8,000 koalas -- which represents a third of their population in NSW -- have died already, seriously threatening the existence of their species, and experts fear critically endangered species such as the southern corroboree frog and mountain pygmy-possum to be completely wiped out.

Other threatened species like the glossy black cockatoo, spotted-tail quoll, and long-footed potoroo are also facing the possibility of extinction in the fires, which have already razed more than 15 million acres of land and claimed at least 25 lives.

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