Nearly 3 billion animals were killed or displaced by wildfires in Australia last year and this year in “one of the worst wildlife disasters in modern history,” a report released yesterday said.
The study by scientists from several Australian universities said that the wildlife hit included 143 million mammals, 2.46 billion reptiles, 180 million birds and 51 million frogs.
While the report did not say how many animals died because of the fires, the prospects for those that escaped the flames “were probably not great” due to a lack of food, shelter and protection from predators, said Chris Dickman, one of its authors.
The fires ravaged more than 115,000km2 of drought-stricken bushland and forest across Australia late last year and early this year, killing more than 30 people and destroying thousands of homes.
It was the broadest and most prolonged bushfire season in modern Australian history.
An earlier study in January estimated the fires had killed 1 billion animals in the hardest-hit eastern states of New South Wales and Victoria.
However, the survey released yesterday was the first to cover fire zones across the continent, said lead scientist Lily van Eeden of the University of Sydney.
Results from the survey were still being processed, with a final report due to be released late next month, but the authors said that the number of 3 billion animals affected was unlikely to change.
“The interim findings are shocking,” said Dermot O’Gorman, chief executive officer of the Australian branch of the World Wide Fund for Nature, which commissioned the report.
“It’s hard to think of another event anywhere in the world in living memory that has killed or displaced that many animals,” he said.
“This ranks as one of the worst wildlife disasters in modern history,” he said.
The plight of Australia’s koalas during the fires garnered international media attention, with thousands of the tree-dwelling marsupials believed to have perished.
However, an Australian government report early this year cited 100 other threatened native plant and animal species that had lost more than half their habitat to the blazes, raising the prospect of far greater losses.
The report released yesterday was drawn up by scientists from the University of Sydney, University of New South Wales, University of Newcastle, Charles Sturt University and conservation group BirdLife Australia.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong (FCC) yesterday said that reporters in the territory were experiencing “highly unusual” visas problems, and called on the US and China to stop using the media as a political weapon. Journalists have been caught up in US-China tensions, with both sides placing limits or expelling reporters from their territories in the past few months. Now the spat is filtering into Hong Kong, a regional press hub nominally in charge of its own immigration policies. The FCC said in a statement that multiple media firms had reported delays getting visas in recent months. “The delays have affected journalists