Australian fires: death toll goes up to one billion

Koala sleeping in tree, Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash
Koala sleeping in tree, Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash

Huge numbers of koala’s, kangaroos, cows, sheep, bats, birds, frogs and other animals are dying in the Australian bushfires.

It was first estimated that half a billion animals had died since September, but ecologists now believe the number is closer to one billion (1,000,000,000) animals.

High temperatures combined with months of severe droughts have caused massive bushfires across the country. In the last couple of weeks, the fires have destroyed large parts of the Australian state New South Whales.

Bushfires are common in Australia, but climate change is making them worse.

Professor Chris Dickman of the University of Sydney told the HuffPost that his previous estimates of 480 million dead animals since September were not only conservative, but also excluded areas and groups of animals for which the data was unavailable.

“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million- was based on mammals, birds and reptiles for which we do have densities, and that figure now is a little bit out of date.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”, Dickman said.

“If 800 million sounds a lot, it’s not all the animals in the firing line,” he added. According to Dickman, if we were to include every living being, the number of dead animals would exceed one billion.

Burned animals at the side of roads
A cameraman shared a disturbing video on Sunday of animals that had perished in the fires lying on the side of the road in Batlow, a town in New South Whales. They tried to flee from the smoke and fire but couldn’t escape.

Horrible pictures and videos like these are surfacing constantly on social media. It’s clear that animals don’t stand a change in these fires. Koalas, for example, instinctively climb up trees when threatened which is a dead trap in case of a bushfire.

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