Wildlife experts estimate that nearly a half-billion animals have died in the bushfires that are currently burning across Australia. Ecologists from the University of Sydney have estimated that roughly 480 million animals have been killed in the fires. This figure includes mammals, birds and reptiles, which have been killed directly or indirectly by the fires, according to The Times.
Federal environment minister Sussan Ley told ABC that up to 30 percent of the wildlife in New South Wales may have been killed. This estimation is based on the fact that roughly 30 percent of their habitat was destroyed.
“We’ll know more when the fires have calmed down and a proper assessment can be made,” Ley said.
Heavy rains last week gave emergency crews a bit of help in some areas, but over 100 fires are still burning across the country. So far, over five million hectares of land have been scorched in the fires, four million of which was in New South Wales. Up to 17 people have died in the fires and an incalculable amount of property damage has occurred.
In addition to the dangers from the fires, air quality across much of Australia has been impacted. In southwest Sydney, air quality has been declared hazardous.
More than half a billion animals and plants die in fires as Australian officials warn the worst is yet to come pic.twitter.com/QyuLIq6fxY
— The Independent (@Independent) January 2, 2020
As Truth Theory reported last month, the fires in New South Wales could be responsible for wiping out all of the koalas in the region, who were already experiencing dangerously low population levels.
According to a report published last year by WWF Australia and the Nature Conservation Council (NCC), koalas were already on their way to becoming extinct in New South Wales due to deforestation, and this was before the fires even began.
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The report used satellite images of NSW to show how koala habitats were under threat from land clearing. The report found that the rate of land cleared in the region nearly tripled, from 2,845 hectares to 8,194 hectares between 2017 and 2018. According to the rate of deforestation shown in the satellite imagery, koalas were expected to be wiped out from the region by 2050, but these unprecedented fires are making this a much more immediate concern. It is possible that the last remaining koalas in the region could be lost in this year’s fires.
IMAGE CREDIT1: Wikipedia
IMAGE CREDIT2: Wikipedia