Just a few days ago, news outlets across the globe – including The Hook – were reporting that the number of animals thought to be dead as a result of the Australian bushfire tragedy were just under half a billion.
Reports are now suggesting that that number wasn’t even close. In fact, according to new information originally reported by The Huffington Post, that number could, in fact, be over a billion now.
Chris Dickman, an ecologist at the University of Sydney told The Huffington Post:
“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million ― was based on mammals, birds and reptiles for which we do have densities, and that figure now is a little bit out of date. It’s over 800 million given the extent of the fires now ― in New South Wales alone.”
“If 800 million sounds a lot, it’s not all the animals in the firing line.”
In other words, add the number of bat, frog and invertebrate deaths to that list and there’s a high possibility that the animal death doll has well surpassed one billion already. Dickman said that “without any doubt at all” the losses have already exceeded the one billion mark.
He told The Huffington Post:
“Over a billion would be a very conservative figure.”
In addition to the estimated one billion animal deaths, at least 25 people have lost their lives to the bushfires, while around 2,000 homes have been destroyed. The fires have burned through 5.25 million hectares (13 million acres) of land, the likes of which nothing has seen before and it shows no sign of slowing down.
In a way, we all lit the match – at least inadvertently.
These fires have, at least in part, been caused by climate change. The world is getting hotter and hotter and for that, we are all to blame.
But, the world appears to have had its eyes forcibly opened to its harsh realities. Thanks to widespread coverage of the Australian bushfires across the globe, countless individuals (including celebrities, such as Chris Hemsworth and the Irwins) and groups have been doing what they can to help Australia and those fighting the fires out there. Some of the individual stories coming out of Australia this week are truly remarkable. For example, just this morning, social media caught wind of a car full of teenagers piling terrified koalas into the vehicle to protect them from the fires.
Police in Australia have arrested nearly 200 people who have been linked to starting bushfires since November. In the states of Queensland, New South Wales (NSW), Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania, 183 people have been arrested for 205 separate bushfire-related charges.
That makes me feel physically sick.
If you can, please consider donating to the likes of the Australia Red Cross, The Salvation Army Australia and Australia Zoo who are working around the clock to help so many humans and animals as the fires continue to roar and ravage the country.
Images via Getty and ABC
Having worked in children's media and publishing for almost a decade, Ben is thoroughly excited to now be able to swear in stories and features. He is such a big fan of Disney and Horror films that he started an LGBTQ+ podcast called 'Once Upon A Scream'. His mum listens. You can contact Ben at [email protected] Twitter: @PulsfordBen / Instagram: @thebenmidlerFollow