Nearly three billion animals were killed or displaced by Australia’s bushfires, according to a report commissioned by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) released on Tuesday.
An estimated of 143 million mammals, 2.46 billion reptiles, 180 million birds, and 51 million frogs — almost triple the figure estimated in January, has perished due to the deadly fires.
“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,” Dermot O’Gorman, WWF-Australia CEO, told CNN in an interview. “This ranks as one of the worst wildlife disasters in modern history.”
Scientists from the University of Sydney, University of New South Wales, University of Newcastle, Charles Sturt University, and BirdLife Australia carried out the research, and are still finalizing the report with the title “Australia’s 2019-2020 Bushfires: The Wildlife Toll.”
WWF said in a statement the three billion figure is unlikely to change, and dubbed it as the worst fire season record.
“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,” added Chris Dickman, professor at the University of Sydney and the one who oversees the research.
He called for policy changes, such as stopping “manic land clearing,” to reduce the risk of mega fires. Authors of the study also called for improvements in habitat connectivity for animals to safely move out of the path of fires.
WWF said the final report should be completed by the end of August.
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