- Charles Sturt academic one of 10 scientists to contribute to report on effects of Australian bushfires on wildlife
- Associate Professor Dale Nimmo said the report measures damage from fires in a method other than hectares destroyed
- An estimated three billion animals, including reptiles, mammals, birds and frogs, were killed or displaced
As bushfires ripped through Australia in early 2020 the scale of the damage to wildlife was unknown, but estimated to be catastrophic.
An interim report by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), featuring research by a Charles Sturt University academic, has revealed the scale of the damage.
Charles Sturt Associate Professor in Ecology in the School of Environmental Sciences and member of the Institute for Land, Water and Society Professor Dale Nimmo was one of 10 scientists from institutions across Australia to compile the report.
The report reveals that 143 million mammals, 2.46 billion reptiles, 180 million birds and 51 million frogs were killed or displaced nationwide during the bushfires.
Animals that were not killed by the flames would likely have perished from lack of shelter and food or dehydration.
Professor Nimmo said the figures were an indication of the unprecedented scale of the fires.
“You can measure these fires in hectares, but it is difficult for people to understand how a disturbance of that size affects our native wildlife,” he said.
“How many animals lived within the 12 million hectares of Australian bush that burned?
“Here we have measured the fire in terms of the number of lives of native wildlife that have likely been lost or affected by the bushfires.
“That it approaches three billion simply reinforces the fact that the last fire season has reshaped Australia’s ecology over vast areas.”
The full report can be viewed by following the links on the WWF website.
Scientists from the University of Sydney, University of New South Wales, University of Newcastle and Birdlife Australia contributed to the report.