Nearly three billion animals killed or displaced by Australian bushfires, WWF says

Nearly three billion animals killed or displaced by Australian bushfires, WWF says
By: World News Posted On: July 28, 2020 View: 19

Nearly three billion animals killed or displaced by Australian bushfires, WWF says

Nearly three billion koalas, kangaroos and other native Australian animals were killed or displaced during the country's worst bushfires in decades, according to the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF).

The vast majority of those affected were reptiles, almost 2.5 billion of which were harmed, along with 180 million birds, 143 million mammals and 51 million frogs by the fires that raged from September 2019 to March 2020.

Conservation charity WWF's final figure is around three times higher than its original estimate of 1.25 billion, made before the fires were fully extinguished.

A woman rescues a badly burnt and wailing koala from an Australian bushfire.
Woman risks life to save koala caught in fire

The total number included animals that were displaced because of destroyed habitats, meaning they subsequently faced a lack of food and shelter, or the prospect of moving to a habitat that was already occupied.

The main reason the estimated number of animal casualties has shot up is that researchers have now assessed the entire affected region of Australia, rather than focusing on the most badly impacted states, the WWF said.

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 01:  on February 01, 2020 in Canberra, Australia. ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr declared a State of Emergency on Friday, as the Orroral Valley bushfire continues to burn out of control. Hot and windy weather conditions forecast for the weekend are expected to increase the bushfire threat to homes in the Canberra region. It is the worst bushfire threat for the area since 2003, when four people died and 470 homes were destroyed or damaged. (Pho
Image: States of emergency were declared during the fires
Bushfires burn near the town of Bumbalong south of Canberra on February 1, 2020. - Authorities in Canberra on January 31, 2020 declared the first state of emergency in almost two decades as a bushfire bore down on the Australian capital. (Photo by PETER PARKS / AFP) (Photo by PETER PARKS/AFP via Getty Images)
Image: Bushfires burn near the town of Bumbalong south of Canberra in February

Thirty-four people were also killed and 3,000 homes destroyed as an area covering 37 million acres, or about half the size of the UK, was destroyed across the southeast of Australia.

Dermot O'Gorman, chief executive officer of WWF-Australia, said in a statement: "This ranks as one of the worst wildlife disasters in modern history."

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Firefighters in New South Wales have released footage to demonstrate how fast bushfires can spread.
How fast bushfires can spread

Project leader Lily van Eeden, of the University of Sydney, said it was the first continent-wide analysis of animals impacted by the bushfires.

She urged other nations to "build upon this research to improve understanding of bushfire impacts everywhere".

A dog is evacuated in the back of a car as high winds push smoke and ash from the Currowan Fire towards Nowra, New South Wales, Australia January 4, 2020
Image: A dog is evacuated from the Currowan Fire in New South Wales in January

Years of drought had left the bush unusually dry, leading to some of the worst bushfires in Australia's history.

Eventually heavy rain did come to the aid of firefighters, allowing them to contain the flames in New South Wales - the most populous state in Australia - for the first time in nearly six months back in February.

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