Selin ATAY-TDO-Nearly 3 billion animals, including mammals, reptiles, birds, frogs, koalas, kangaroos and other native Australian animals were killed or displaced by bushfires in 2019 and 2020, the period called “Black Summer”, according to a study by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said.
143 million mammals, 2.46 billion reptiles, 180 million birds and 51 million frogs were impacted by the country’s worst bushfires in decades, according to figures which are revealed in an interim report entitled Australia’s 2019-2020 Bushfires: The Wildlife Toll, commissioned by the World Wide Fund for Nature and believed to be world first research.
Some groups, such as invertebrates, fish and turtles, were not included in the estimates, the report said, based on population census and estimates of animal density prior to the disaster.
When the fires were still blazing, the WWF estimated the number of affected animals at 1.25 billion animals in the state of New South Wales and Victoria. The deadly bushfires destroyed more than 11 million hectares (37 million acres) across the Australian southeast, equal to about half the area of the United Kingdom.
"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 Chief Executive Officer Dermot O’Gorman in a statement.
"The recommendations in the interim report ask for addressing knowledge gaps on wildlife densities and responses to fire, improving habitat connectivity to help mobile species escape fire," said the statement.
It also emphasized the vitality of improving fire management, and building "rapid response teams" to help species affected by fires.