Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

25 Humans, More Than One Billion Animals Dead in Australia Wildfires

Climate
Destruction from the Currowan fire on Tallowa Dam Rd. in Kangaroo Valley, Australia on Jan. 5, 2020. Wolter Peeters / The Sydney Morning Herald / Fairfax Media via Getty Images

Twenty-five people and more than one billion animals are dead in historic Australian wildfires that are now expected to burn for months.


Conditions improved over the weekend, but hot, windy weather is expected to return at the end of the week, NPR reported Monday.

"There is no room for complacency," New South Wales (NSW) state Premier Gladys Berejiklian told BBC News.

There were 130 fires burning in NSW alone as of 4 a.m. on Tuesday, and 69 were uncontained on Monday, according to NSW Rural Fire Service.

Most of the deaths — at least 19 — have taken place in NSW, according to NPR. The others occurred in Victoria and South Australia. Officials are concerned fires in NSW and Victoria could combine into a "mega blaze," according to BBC News.

Meanwhile, the toll on wildlife has been even more devastating than previously reported.

Chris Dickman, an ecologist at the University of Sydney who estimated that nearly half a billion animals had perished in the flames, told HuffPost Tuesday that his estimate did not take all of Australia into account.

"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million ― was based on mammals, birds and reptiles for which we do have densities, and that figure now is a little bit out of date.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," Dickman explained. "If 800 million sounds a lot, it's not all the animals in the firing line."

800 million does not include bats, frogs and invertebrates. It also leaves out livestock.

"The number of cattle and sheep killed is still being tallied, but the losses are expected to be enormous," Jason Beaubien reported for NPR.

There are also reports that officials will kill thousands of camels in northwestern Australia as they compete with humans for water while drought and fires persist, according to HuffPost.

"Over a billion would be a very conservative figure," Dickman told HuffPost of the total animal death toll from the fires so far.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who supports coal use, has been criticized both for his immediate response to the fires and for his failure to act on the climate crisis that is making them worse.

"It's our climate impact and our obsession with coal that is helping wage war on our own country," World Wildlife Fund Australia environmental scientist Stuart Blanch told HuffPost.

Morrison has promised $1.4 billion for recovery over the next two years and said he would create an agency to help those who lost homes and businesses recover, BBC News reported.

The fires have damaged or destroyed more than 2,000 homes, according to HuffPost.

On Saturday, the government also deployed around 3,000 Army reservists and aircraft and naval ships to help with firefighting and evacuations. It was the largest military deployment in the country since World War II, The New York Times reported.

"The government has not taken this decision lightly," Defense Minister Linda Reynolds told The New York Times. "It is the first time that reserves have been called out in this way in living memory."

Among those rescued by the military were more than 1,000 residents and vacationers in Mallacoota, who were forced by fires to shelter on the beach last week.

The evacuees were taken by naval vessel to Hastings, near Melbourne. One of them, 23-year-old Corrin Mueller, stepped off the boat carrying a sign reading "inaction costs more" to protest the government's failure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Australia is one of the highest per capita emitters of carbon dioxide in the world.

"We're only here because nobody's acted quick enough," Mueller told The New York Times. "And there's so much more we can still do to stop more people having to go through this."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a White House Clean Energy Investment Summit on June 16, 2015 in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC. Alex Wong / Getty Images

By Jake Johnson

With presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden's climate platform becoming increasingly ambitious thanks to nonstop grassroots pressure, fossil fuel executives and lobbyists are pouring money into the coffers of President Donald Trump's reelection campaign in the hopes of keeping an outspoken and dedicated ally of dirty energy in the White House.

Read More Show Less
The Food and Drug Administration is now warning against more than 100 potentially dangerous hand sanitizers.
Antonio_Diaz / Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now warning against more than 100 potentially dangerous hand sanitizers.

Read More Show Less
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at a news conference on July 1, 2020 in New York City. Byron Smith / Getty Images

While the nation overall struggles with rising COVID cases, New York State is seeing the opposite. After peaking in March and April and implementing strict shutdowns of businesses, the state has seen its number of positive cases steadily decline as it slowly reopens. From coast-to-coast, Governor Andrew Cuomo's response to the crisis has been hailed as an exemplar of how to handle a public health crisis.

Read More Show Less
A whale shark swims in the Egyptian Red Sea. Derek Keats / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.0

By Gavin Naylor

Sharks elicit outsized fear, even though the risk of a shark bite is infinitesimally small. As a marine biologist and director of the Florida Program for Shark Research, I oversee the International Shark Attack File – a global record of reported shark bites that has been maintained continuously since 1958.

Read More Show Less
A girl sits under a temporary shade made by joining two bed in Churu, Rajasthan on June 4, 2019. Temperatures in the Indian desert city hit 50 degrees C (122 F) for the second time in three days, sending residents scrambling for shade. MONEY SHARMA / AFP via Getty Images

Current efforts to curb an infectious disease show the potential we have for collective action. That action and more will be needed if we want to stem the coming wave of heat-related deaths that will surpass the number of people who die from all infectious diseases, according to a new study, as The Guardian reported.

Read More Show Less
America Pikas are found from the Sierra Nevada to the Rocky Mountains, and have been migrating to higher elevations. Jon LeVasseur / Flickr / Public Domain

By Jenny Morber

Caribbean corals sprout off Texas. Pacific salmon tour the Canadian Arctic. Peruvian lowland birds nest at higher elevations.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Biologists are studying the impact of climate change on the Nenets and their reindeer herds. Deutsche Welle

Biologist Egor Kirillin is on a special mission. Deep in the Siberian wilderness in the Russian Republic of Sakha, he waits on the Olenjok river until reindeer come thundering into the water.

Read More Show Less