Australia identifies 113 species in need of emergency help because of wildfires

A panel of experts in Australia have identified 113 animal species that are in need of urgent help after devastating bushfires killed more than a billion animals and destroyed large swaths of habitats.

But despite earlier fears, there was one bit of welcome news: there appears to have been no extinctions because of thefires.

But almost all species on the list had lost at least 30% of their habitat due to the mammoth blazes in the south and east over Australia’s summer.

Koalas and wallabies, as well as bird, fish and frog species are among those needing the most help, said experts.

Researchers had previously estimated that more than 1 billion animals may have perished in the fires, which scorched large swathes of temperate forest and grassland. The Wildlife and Threatened species Bushfire Recovery Expert Panel released its findings earlier this week with a list.

Species worst-hit by the fires

  • 13 birds
  • 20 reptiles
  • 5 inverterbrates
  • 19 mammals
  • 22 crayfish
  • 17 fish

A provisional list, released on Tuesday, narrowed a field of hundreds of fire-affected species to those needing the most urgent conservation action. It was drawn up by the government’s Wildlife and Threatened Species Bushfire Recovery Expert Panel.

The panel found some highly threatened species faced “imminent risk of extinction” because almost all of their habitat had been destroyed. These included the Pugh’s frog, Blue Mountains water skink and the Kangaroo Island dunnart.

Others, such as the koala and the smoky mouse, had “substantial” sections destroyed, meaning they would need “emergency intervention” to support their recovery.

While many species on the list were already considered threatened before the fires, other additions had been viewed as safe.

“Many [species] were considered secure and not threatened before the fires, but have now lost much of their habitat and may be imperilled,” said the panel in its report.

Plant species and further invertebrates are expected to be named in the next update of the list, said Environment Minister Sussan Ley.

She said assessing the true scale of the devastation had been limited due to ongoing blazes in some areas and smouldering grounds.

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