The Australian wildfires that have been burning since September are now believed to have killed more than one billion animals, according to an ecology expert.
Chris Dickman, a professor of ecology at the University of Sydney, has updated his original estimate that 480 million animals have been affected by the wildfires, People reports.
Now, it appears more than 800 million animals have been killed solely in New South Wales, which means many more animals have been affected across Australia. His updated total includes both animals that have been killed by the fires themselves and those that died in ways affiliated with the fires, due to losing their habitats or starving to death.
“We know that Australian biodiversity has been going down over the last several decades, and it's probably fairly well known that Australia's got the world's highest rate of extinction for mammals," Dickman explained in a statement. "It's events like this that may well hasten the extinction process for a range of other species. So, it's a very sad time."
"What we’re seeing are the effects of climate change," the professor continued. "Sometimes, it’s said that Australia is the canary in the coal mine with the effects of climate change being seen here most severely and earliest ... We’re probably looking at what climate change may look like for other parts of the world in the first stages in Australia at the moment."
The United States meanwhile, is doing what it can to help our furry friends down under.
In a video posted on Twitter Thursday by Shane Fitzsimmons, the commissioner of the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, American firefighters are seen being greeted by thunderous applause as they arrived at the Sydney International Airport to help combat wildfires.