Three billion animals harmed or killed by Australia’s fire

Wildlife struggled to find food and shelter after the fires. Photo by Getty Images

Victoria, Australia — Australia’s fire has killed or harmed approximately three billion animals.

The scientists say that nearly three billion animals were killed or displaced during Australia’s devastating bushfires of the past year. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), says that according to the findings, it was one of “worst wildlife disasters in modern history.”

The mega blazes swept across almost all states of Australia last summer, scorching bush and killing at least 33 people. The Mammals, reptiles, birds and frogs died in the flames or from loss of habitat as well.

The scientists had estimated that 1.25 billion animals had been killed in New South Wales and Victoria alone dhring the peak of the crisis in January.

However, the new estimate takes in a larger area with about 11.46 million hectares – an area comparable to England – was scorched from September to February.

“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 Prof Chris Dickman, who oversaw the project by 10 scientists from Australian universities.

He said that they are not sure of an exact death toll, however the chances of animals escaping the blazes and surviving were “probably not that great” due to a lack of food and shelter.

The numbers were based on population counts and estimates of animal density before the disaster. The limitations on data shows that some groups – such as invertebrates, fish and turtles – were not included in the estimates.

The government pledged A $50m (£27m; $35m) to wildlife and habitat recovery, but the environmentalists have called on Australia to strengthen its conservation laws.