Fact sheet

Fact Check: Have more than a billion animals perished nationwide this bushfire season? Here are the facts

Bushfires Animal populations

More than 1 billion animals were estimated to have died in Australia's bushfires by early January 2020, according to Chris Dickman, an ecology expert from the University of Sydney. RMIT ABC Fact check found the claim is a conservative estimate. Professor Dickman's calculations consciously understated animal density rates for areas that previously were bountiful habitats for diverse Australian wildlife species. Using figures drawn from a 2007 research paper on the number of animals per hectare, and multiplying them by the extent of land affected by fire, he has concluded that more than 1 billion animals, birds and reptiles have been lost in NSW alone. However, he has intentionally understated the animal density figures of the traditionally wetter, richer eastern ranges habitat by using lower density rates that apply in sparser, drier regions.The calculation does not include estimates for the number of platypuses or bats lost. As well, his estimate is based on the extent of fire-affected areas in NSW and Victoria only; it does not include areas affected by fire in other states.
Verdict: Conservative Estimate

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