Estimate: 1 billion animals may have perished in Australian bushfires

Thursday, 09 Jan, 2020

As Australia battles bushfires that have cost more than than two dozen lives, thousands of homes and other structures, and millions of dollars, police have charged at least 24 people for allegedly setting some of those fires intentionally.

In total, more than 7.3 million hectares (17.9 million acres) have been burned across Australia's six states - an area larger than the countries of Belgium and Denmark combined.

Seemingly adding weight to the claim, New South Wales police recently said they have taken action against 183 people for "bushfire-related offences" since 8 November a year ago.

The Australia fires have exacted a heavy toll on the states of New South Wales and Queensland since the fires began past year.

On Wednesday, ecologists at the University of Sydney doubled their estimate of the number of animals killed or injured in the fires to one billion, as the UN World Meteorological Organization confirmed that smoke from the blazes has drifted as far as South America.

"They can smoulder around in trees and in root systems for a couple of days and pop up under drier, hotter conditions, so we are very mindful of that as we head into Friday", he added.

Courtney Barnett is throwing two benefit shows in Melbourne, Australia, with Camp Cope and Alice Skye, with all proceeds going to "bushfire disaster appeal, vic/nsw fire services and wildlife rescue".

Morrison's mistakes began early in the disaster, which has killed at least 26 people and destroyed 2,000 homes.

Many Australian actors and filmmakers used their time at the Golden Globes Sunday to speak out about the wildfires and plead for policy changes that could prevent such fires in the future. Birds, reptiles, and mammals, excluding bats, are among those affected.

She said: "It feels like we have hit a turning point that we predicted was coming as a effect of climate change".

"I say to those who are delaying action on climate change: Look at the blood-red sky and '".

But during an interview on British television earlier this week, junior government lawmaker Craig Kelly ruled out any link between the wildfires and climate change, instead blaming the fires on drought and a lack of controlled burning to reduce the amount of fuel in the countryside.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the crisis would have a significant economic impact as Treasurer Josh Frydenberg met chief executives of insurers Insurance Australia Group, Suncorp Group and QBE Insurance Group, and local heads of Germany's Allianz and Switzerland's Zurich Insurance Group, plus heads of Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Group.