Nearly three billion animals were either killed or displaced during Australia’s ‘catastrophic’ fires in the past year.
According to an interim report commissioned by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) – the blazes harmed 143 million mammals, 2.46 billion reptiles, 180 million birds, and 51 million frogs.
The final report, which is expected to be completed by the end of August this year, is being led by Dr. Lily Van Eeden and overseen by Professor Chris Dickman, both from the University of Sydney.
A wildlife ‘disaster’
WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman said in a statement: “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.”
‘It’s absolutely huge’
“When you think about nearly three billion native animals being in the path of the fires it is absolutely huge, it’s a difficult number to comprehend,” said Professor Dickman.
He added that whilst it is not possible to confirm exactly how many animals have died, the prospects for those which escaped the flames were ‘probably not that great’ due to a lack of food and shelter or being forced into habitat already occupied.