Given the longevity and sheer size of the bushfires that have ravaged New South Wales over recent months, it’s no surprise that the blow felt by the affected areas has been truly terrible.
Just how terrible, though? Well, frightening new estimates by ecologists suggest that almost half a billon native Australian animals have lost their lives since September.
More than three million hectares of New South Wales have burned as a result of the fires. It’s now being projected that as many as 480 million mammals, birds and reptiles may have died directly or indirectly.
???— Katie Phang (@KatiePhang) January 2, 2020
“Ecologists from the University of Sydney now estimate 480 million mammals, birds and reptiles have been lost since September.” https://t.co/dBKubvZJr7
The internet has been flooded with images of the blazes, which have torn through the Australian state, destroying habitats, homes, and livelihoods.
Chris Dickman, professor of ecology at the University of Sydney, told Daily Mail Australia: “Some things probably won’t come back. It’s nearly half a billion native animals.
GOD HAVE MERCY!— Nyombi (@NolanQ13) January 2, 2020
Half a billion animals perish in Australian bush-fires.
There are real concerns entire species of plants and animals have been wiped out by bushfires following revelations almost 500 million animals have died since the crisis began in September. pic.twitter.com/4sOlozcm0g
“Almost certainly, a lot of koalas would have been killed directly by the flames and probably indirectly by a combination of starvation, being picked off by dogs, even for the ones that survived.”
It’s still too early to say how many creatures will lose their lives due to the fires, but we know that the number is far beyond what anyone could have predicted when the fires started.
Wildlife communities will almost certainly require human assistance to bring population levels to what they were before the crisis, but even so an uncertain future is looming.
What a terrible tragedy, and one that Australia is sure to feel for generations to come.
Share this article to send your prayers to all the humans and animals affected by the New South Wales fires.