Millions of animals were killed by bushfires and thousands more will die as blazes continue ravaging southeast Australia.
Agricultural livestock and native wildlife are among the fatalities, and endangered species are at high risk of extinction.
Wildlife Victoria boss Megan Davidson said to AAP: “The fires will have killed millions of animals … mammals, birds, reptiles.”
Wildlife rescue groups are likely to be helpless and the danger isn’t over. “It is largely a job of euthanasing at this stage, both livestock and wildlife,” Dr. Davidson continued.
“They are so severely burnt that there is nothing better you can do other than end their suffering.”
Wild animals that have survived will keep struggling due to loss of natural habitat and food.
One species of concern is the nationally-endangered eastern bristlebird.
The University of Melbourne’s Alan York said: “There are only three populations in Australia and two are under threat.”
One of their habitats is on the New South Wales south coast and the other is in Victoria’s East Gippsland, where blazes forced people to evacuate.
“It is a bird with very limited flight capabilities so it’s very difficult for it to get out of the way of fire,” Prof York added.
Despite the damages caused by the blazes, both Dr. Davidson and Prof York were hopeful the populations of animals can recover.
“People get worried that species will become extinct but it’s more about population size and they will return,” he said.
“It is sometimes surprising how quickly things will recover – as soon as conditions are good again they can very rapidly breed up.”
One internet user commented: “I have no words. I’ve cried tears for these beautiful, defenceless animals and given my own cat extra snuggles this week. That helps no one. I feel helpless watching this unfold. Can only imagine how the Australian people are feeling.”
Another wrote: “My heart is breaking. To think of how afraid they must’ve been and ultimately their suffering. My heart goes out to all the people in Australia. I hope the horror ends soon.”
A third added: “Awwww so sad,poor little things,my heart breaks for the Aussie people and the animals dying.”
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