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Australian bushfires killed or displaced nearly 3 billion animals last summer - report

Nearly three billion animals were killed or displaced during Australia's devastating summer of bushfires, according to scientists.

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Scientists have determined it was one of the worst wildlife disasters in modern history. Source: Breakfast

A newly published report found it was one of the worst wildlife disasters in modern history.

Blazes tore through every state in Australia, scorching around 11.46 hectares and killing 33 people.

Of the animals, an estimated 143 million mammals, 2.6 billion reptiles, 180 million birds and 51 million frogs were killed or displaced - three times as many as previous estimates.

WWF Australia commissioned the report, and chief executive Dermont O'Gorman says the findings are shocking.

"It’s hard to think of another event anywhere in the world in living memory that has killed or displaced that many animals," he said in a statement.

"This ranks as one of the worst wildlife disasters in modern history."

One of the scientists who oversaw the project, University of Sydney professor Chris Dickman, says it's a dark sign of future mega fires driven by climate change.

"How quickly can we decarbonise? How quickly can we stop our manic land clearing? We land clear at a rate that’s one of the highest in the world," he says.

"When you think about nearly three billion native animals being in the path of the fires it is absolutely huge, it’s a difficult number to comprehend."

A previous report in January had estimated 1.25 billion animals were killed or displaced in the devastating summer bushfires across New South Wales and Victoria.

The new report looked across the entire country, the researchers say.