How do they know half a billion animals died in the Australian Bushfires?.
The number was calculated on an average of 17.5 mammals, 20.7 birds and 129.5 reptiles per hectare.
So, with 6 million hectares burnt, or about 1% of the country, then it means that 1% of these creatures would also be lost. Half a billion is therefore 1% of the total in this country.
For those who ask how many are left, the answer would be 99% or 49.5 billion.
It is of course an estimate.
The actual figures being used are very old figures from Prof Chris Dickman, an expert on Australian biodiversity at the University of Sydney.
In 2007 he co-wrote a statement for the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) on the impact of land-clearing on Australian wildlife in New South Wales.
The figures he used were in relation to the number of animals affected rather than those necessarily dying as a direct result of the fire.
Based on the estimates that he used, (as percentages for each type), the 500 million total would include:
- 50 million Mammals
- 59 million Birds
- 370 million Reptiles
The most common Mammals that most people will think of, when reading about these fires, are the Koala and the Kangaroo.
Prof Dickman said: “ large animals, like kangaroos or emus – many birds, of course – will be able to move away from the fire as it approaches,” “I guess it’s the less mobile species (Koalas) and the smaller ones that depend on the forest itself that are really in the firing line.”
The largest numbers of mammals appear to be the Antechinus, Dunnarts, and the native Mouse and Rat.
This chart shows the “per hectare” estimates of Mammals in regions of NSW.
I had to check to see what the Antechinus and Dunnarts were, so here is what I found.
- Antechinus. They resemble mice with the bristly fur of shrews. They are sometimes also called broad-footed marsupial mice, pouched mice, route rat etc. They are about 11 cm in length and weigh 28 to 45 grams.
- Dunnart: These are about the size of a European mouse, are about 10 cm in length and weigh about 15 to 17 grams.
Koalas Lost to Bushfire in Australia.
In 2016, experts estimated that there are about 329,000 koalas in Australia. If 1% of those were caught in the fires, that would be about 3,300 koalas lost. Some news reports are talking about 1,000 or 2,000 Koalas being lost, but it could end up a bit higher, depending on the concentration of them in the areas that are burning.
Kangaroos Lost to Bushfire in Australia.
In 2016, there were almost 45 million kangaroos in Australia. Using that same 1% figure, would mean about 450,000 Kangaroos lost.
Other Mammals in Australia.
There are 379 species of mammals recorded in Australia. This includes Dingoes, Echidna, Possums, Rats, Mice, Wombats and many others.
Reptiles in Australia.
Australia has a large diversity of reptiles, with over 860 species. These include Snakes, Lizards and Turtles etc.