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Extraordinary wildfires in Australia in 2019 have killed or displaced nearly 3 billion animals.
A report said that research by scientists had revealed that 3 billion animals had been killed or left the affected area as a result of this unusual fire. That was one of the worst wildlife catastrophes.
Scientists from various Australian universities said in their research that wildlife affected 143 million mammals, 2.46 billion reptiles, 180 million birds and 51 million frogs.
The report, released on Tuesday, was compiled by scientists from the University of Sydney, the University of New South Wales, the University of Newcastle, Charles Street University and the Conservation Group BirdLife Australia.
Chris Duckman, one of the study’s authors, said that although the report did not say how many animals died in the fire, the lack of food, shelter and protection from predators who survived the fire may have affected them.
By the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020, more than 115,000 square kilometres (44,000 square miles) of forest and drought-affected land across Australia had caught fire, killing 30 people and injuring thousands. Houses were destroyed.
It was the longest and longest bush fire season in modern Australian history, with scientists calling the crisis the effects of climate change.
An earlier study in January said the fires had hit New South Wales and the eastern states of Victoria the hardest, killing more than a billion animals.
However, University of Sydney scientist Lily Van Eden said in a survey released on Tuesday that the study covered fire zones across the continent.
In addition, the results of the survey are still being worked on and the final report will be released by the end of next month, but the authors said that the number of 3 billion animals affected is unlikely to change.
“The initial facts are shocking,” said Dermott O’Gurman, CEO of the Australian branch of the World Wide Fund for Nature, which commissioned the report.
“It’s hard to imagine an incident like this anywhere else in the world that has resulted in so many animals being killed or displaced,” he said.
At the same time, he called it “one of the worst wildlife disasters in modern history.”
Scientists say global warming is prolonging Australia’s summer and making it more dangerous, while the shortening of winter has hampered efforts to prevent bush fires.