As many as a billion animals may have been killed in Australia’s wildfires since September, a scientist said, doubling his earlier estimate as the unprecedented scale of the crisis in the world’s driest inhabited continent continued to emerge.
New figures released on Wednesday by the University of Sydney’s Chris Dickman indicate more than 800 million animals have been killed in the state of New South Wales alone, while one billion had died nationally. That includes mammals, birds and reptiles directly killed by the fires or indirectly through loss of habitat.
Courtesy of bloomberg.com
20,000+ Koala bears dead due to fires on Kangeroo Island, Australia #BushFires #Koalas #KangerooIsland #Australia
Photo Credit: Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park
Rescuers are frantically searching Kangaroo Island for injured animals amid fears over half of its 50,000 koala population perished in Friday’s devastating bushfire.
Thousands of charred bodies of native animals were littered across the West End Highway, including wallabies and koalas, after the animals tried to escape the inferno at Flinders Chase National Park.
Sam Mitchell, Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park co-owner, said his team is rescuing survivors as quickly as possible ahead of worsening conditions in the coming days.
‘There is no food left, for those (animals) who didn’t perish in the fire, a lot of them will starve to death,’ he told The Advertiser.
Mr Mitchell said the island has ‘gone from one extreme to the other’, recalling suggestions the island’s koalas should be culled in past years.
‘People would talk about koalas being a pest species … but now there are a lot of koalas (which) perished in the fires,’ he said.
Mr Mitchell said it could take years for the native wildlife to recover.
Courtesy of dailymail.co.uk
500 MILLION animals dead during past 4 months due to bush fires in Australia #BushFires #animals #australia
There are concerns that entire species of plants and animals may have been wiped out by bushfires following estimations that 480 million animals may die as a result of the crisis.
Ecologists from the University of Sydney estimate almost half a billion mammals, birds and reptiles may have been lost since September.
They also say the figure may increase following the devastating fires which have ripped through Victoria and the NSW South Coast over the past couple of days, leaving several people dead or unaccounted for, razing scores of homes and leaving thousands stranded.
The estimation includes animals killed in the fires, but also through loss of habitat.
According to a statement from Sydney University, the co-author of the report, Professor Chris Dickman, a professor in Terrestrial Ecology, based the calulations on a 2007 report for the the World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF) on the impacts of Land Clearing on Australia Wildlife in NSW.
The university indicated that although these were estimates and there was no way of counting the actual toll, the estimations were obtained from published studies of mammals in NSW and reports of similar habitats in other parts of Australia.
Fires have been raging across NSW and Victoria, with millions of hectares of national park already burnt.
Harrowing scenes of kangaroos fleeing walls of fire, charred bodies of koalas and cockatoos falling dead out of trees have horrified the world as it tries to take in the scale of the unfolding disaster.
Koalas have been among the hardest hit of Australia’s native animals because they are slow moving and only eat leaves from the eucalyptus tree, which are filled with oil, making them highly flammable.
Courtesy of news.com.au
PHOTO: Experts hold concerns for koalas after a fire in the Lake Innes Nature Reserve, a known koala hotspot. (ABC Mid North Coast: Wiriya Sati)
Hundreds of koalas are believed to have perished in a bushfire that has ripped through a large area of critical koala habitat, south of Port Macquarie in New South Wales
Staff from the Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie are unable to access the area because it remains off limits due to the continuing intensity of the blaze.
Ms Flanagan said it was likely at least 350 koalas had died, based on the overall size of the current fire footprint, which is two-thirds of the koala habitat, and a 60 per cent mortality rate.
“Twenty years worth of work at the place. I just feel like walking away, I really do, I’m not going to, but it’s just awful,” she said.
The fire razed an area south of Port Macquarie that is considered critical koala habitat.
The fire has so far burnt out more than 2,000 hectares of bushland and is continuing to spread.
The Koala Hospital has worried about the potential for this scale of destruction since 2002.
“That area houses the most significant population of koalas in this region,” Ms Flanagan said.
Courtesy of abc.net.au