Australia's deadly bushfires estimated to have killed 1.25 billion animals and burned over 20 million acres of area in the country, according to an international environmental group.
"Around 1.25 billion animals may have been killed directly or indirectly from fires that have burnt 8.4 million hectares [over 20 million acres] across Australia, equivalent to the whole of country of Austria," World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Australia said in a statement on Tuesday.
Calculating the figures by using methodology that estimates the effects of land clearing on wildlife in Australia, Dermot O’Gorman, chief executive officer of WWF Australia, said that loss of 1.25 billion animals include thousands of koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, gliders, potoroos, cockatoos and honeyeaters.
"Many forests will take decades to recover and some species may have tipped over the brink of extinction. Until the fires subside, the full extent of damage will remain unknown," he stressed.
Mentioning that bushfires are normal for Australia but this year’s is “unprecedented”, O'Gorman said climate change does not cause bushfires, but it makes them “much worse”.
Hospitals are crowded with patients suffering heart and lung damage in the south as "terrible" air quality is taking a toll on public health, especially in Sydney and Canberra, according to reports.
Bushfires in Australia, which started in last August and continue to rage in the summer months in the southern hemisphere, have exacerbated the situation.
Although bushfires are common in Australia, this year they started in the south, instead of the north.
"When the fires clear we will help restore homes for koalas and other wildlife through our Towards Two Billion Trees plan to save and grow two billion trees by 2030," he added.
Towards Two Billion Trees plan was launched by WWF Australia in order to protect and restore Australian forests, by saving 780 million trees and growing 1.56 billion new trees, which have been devastated by ongoing bushfires.