3 billion animals killed or displaced since 2019 in Australia

Updated: 29 July, 2020 10:36 IST | Agencies | Melbourne

According to WWF Australia, the new figures are three times the earlier estimate of 1.2 billion released in January

An injured Koala waits to be treated for burns on Kangaroo Island
An injured Koala waits to be treated for burns on Kangaroo Island

Nearly 3 billion animals, including mammals, reptiles and birds, were either killed or displaced during Australia's devastating bushfire season of 2019 and 2020, a new study by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said on Tuesday, revealing for the first time the scale of the impact on the country's wildlife.

According to WWF Australia, the new figures are three times the earlier estimate of 1.2 billion released in January. Almost 143 million mammals, 2.46 billion reptiles, 180 million birds, and 51 million frogs have perished in the bushfire, the WWF said in an interim report believed to be world first research and titled Australia's 2019-2020 Bushfires: The Wildlife Toll.

A rescued kangaroo is being cared for by volunteers. Pics/AFP
A rescued kangaroo is being cared for by volunteers. Pics/AFP

Ten scientists from the University of Sydney, the University of New South Wales, the University of Newcastle, Charles Sturt University, and BirdLife Australia contributed to majority of the work. The project is led by the of Sydney University researcher Chris Dickman.

"The interim findings are shocking. It's hard to think of another event anywhere in the world in living memory that has killed or displaced that many animals. This ranks as one of the worst wildlife disasters in modern history," said WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O'Gorman.

While the scientists cannot say how many animals died, Dickman said the prospects for animals which escaped the flames were "probably not that great" because of a lack of food and shelter or being forced into habitat already occupied.

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First Published: 29 July, 2020 07:37 IST

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