As Australia’s catastrophic wildfires rage on with no end in sight, University of Sydney ecologist Chris Dickman said the number of animals killed in the blazes has topped one billion—a horrifying figure that the scientist described as a “very conservative” estimate.
Dickman told HuffPost late Monday that the original estimate of nearly 500 million animals killed was based solely on figures from the state of New South Wales (NSW) and excluded groups of animals that have been devastated by the wildfires, which have scorched 18 million acres of land, destroyed thousands of homes, and killed at least 25 people.
“It’s our climate impact and our obsession with coal that is helping wage war on our own country.”
—Stuart Blanch, World Wildlife Fund Australia
“The original figure—the 480 million—was based on mammals, birds, and reptiles for which we do have densities, and that figure now is a little bit out of date,” Dickman said. “It’s over 800 million given the extent of the fires now—in New South Wales alone.”
When animals such as bats, frogs, and invertebrates are included in the total, Dickman said, “without any doubt at all” the death toll has exceeded a billion.
“Over a billion would be a very conservative figure,” the ecologist said.
Stuart Blanch, scientist with World Wildlife Fund Australia, agreed with Dickman’s assessment of over a billion animals lost to the fires.
“It’s our climate impact and our obsession with coal that is helping wage war on our own country,” Blanch said in an interview with HuffPost.
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