Close to half a billion animals potentially killed in Australian fires

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Close to half a billion animals in Australia’s New South Wales state may have been killed in wildfires since September — and the number could climb.

Research, led by the University of Sydney’s Chris Dickman, said many of the estimated 480 million affected mammals, birds and reptiles would have been directly killed by the fires or indirectly through loss of habitat.

Distressing images of injured or dead Australian native animals — including koalas and kangaroos — have been flooding social media streams as the wildfires sweep through south-eastern Australia, destroying vast tracts of land and homes. The human death toll since the fire season began months ago in the southern hemisphere winter stands at 20.

See also: Photo story: Largest peacetime evacuation in Australia’s history of people affected by bushfires

Koalas have been particularly affected, according to Environment Minister Sussan Ley who told local radio that up to 30% of the population on the mid-north coast of New South Wales may have been killed.

The 480 million figure really only provides a rudimentary indication of the true scale of ecological destruction, according to Dickman, who highlighted it was a conservative estimate.

The fires have destroyed more than 12 million acres (5 million hectares).

Read more via Bloomberg/Huffpost

 

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