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Australian Wildfires Have Killed Nearly Half A Billion Animals

Nearly half a billion animals are feared dead in Australia as devastating wildfires continue to rage across the country, the Independent reported.

The number is staggering.

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Ecologists at the University of Sydney estimate around 480 million mammals, birds, and reptiles have been wiped out in the blazes that have destroyed more than five million hectares of New South Wales since first beginning in September.

Sydney ecology Professor Chris Dickman revealed the troubling numbers on Friday and admitted the effects will be hard, if not impossible, to reverse.

He expressed concerns that entire species of plants and animals may very well have been wiped out entirely by the bushfires.

"It's nearly half a billion native animals," he told Daily Mail Australia. "Some things probably won't come back."

Among those animals most affected by the raging bushfires are the country's koala population.

Dickman estimates around 30% of koalas have been killed.

"Almost certainly, a lot of koalas would have been killed directly by the flames and probably indirectly by a combination of starvation, being picked off by dogs, even for the ones that survived," he revealed.

Speaking to the destruction of koala habitats making future reproduction difficult, Dickman said the species could very well be "functionally extinct in some areas."

Koalas have been hit the hardest by the bush fires because they are slow-moving and spend most of their time up in trees.

Koalas also only eat leaves from the eucalyptus tree, which are highly flammable.

Koala Hospital Port Macquarie

"The fires have burned so hot and so fast that there has been significant mortality of animals in the trees, but there is such a big area now that is still on fire and still burning that we will probably never find the bodies," Nature Conservation Council ecologist Mark Graham told parliament, as reported by

He added, “[Koalas] really have no capacity to move fast enough to get away."

Troubling images and videos of Australian wildlife being affected by the wildfires have emerged all over the internet.

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One firefighter was recently filmed pouring a bottle of water into a dehydrated koala's mouth as fires rage on in the smoke-filled woods behind them.

A separate Twitter post shows a pair of cockatoo birds dead on the ground after enduring temperatures too intense to survive.

One viral video even shows a herd of kangaroos fleeing from the incoming wildfires.

We often joke about Australia's weird and unique animals or gasp at the size of its insects, but that uniqueness is also what makes this situation so devastating. Many of the animals affected aren't found anywhere else in the world.

It's already one of the worst fire seasons in history and summer has barely started.

As of right now, there are still some 79 fires burning in NSW with 40 yet to be contained, and the human death toll from the fires has now risen to 17 since New Year's Day.

Click here to donate to RSPCA NWS' bushfire relief fund.

h/t: Independent, Daily Mail Australia,

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