The bushfires that have burned more than 12.35 million acres of land in Australia, taken the lives of 25 people, and destroyed more than 1,000 homes, show no signs of stopping.
We heard last week about the estimation that around half a billion of animals have lost their lives in the fires. Well, Chris Dickman, the ecologist from the University of Sydney who made that estimation, has since updated his estimates.
He told the Huffington Post that his earlier figures were very conservative, and they were exclusive to the state of New South Wales and they excluded groups of animals that he didn’t have population figures for.
He said that the original figure was based on mammals, birds, and reptiles. That figure is a bit out of date now, and given the extent of the fires now, it’s over 800 million of animals in New South Wales alone. However, if 800 million animals sound a lot, it’s not all the animals in the firing line. That number excludes certain animals like bats, frogs, and invertebrates. If you include those, Dickman says that the number would be over 1 billion “without any doubt at all”.
According to Stuart Blanch, an environmental scientist at World Wildlife Fund Australia, those figures seem correct, given the fact that the fires have expanded a lot since previous estimates.
Estimates say that around that 8,000 koalas lost their lives in New South Wales, and that would represent almost a third of the state’s pre-fire koala population. The proper assessment will be made, however, when the fires have calmed down.
The country’s federal agriculture minister Bridget McKenzie estimates that at least 100,000 livestock animals have lost their lives because of the fires, and many of them have been euthanized if they’re unable to be evacuated.