A koala named Paul from Lake Innes Nature Reserve recovers from his burns in the ICU at The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, Nov. 29, 2019, Port Macquarie, Australia. Photo: Nathan Edwards/Getty Images

More than 1 billion animals are believed to have been killed in wildfires that have ravaged Australia since September, University of Sydney professor Chris Dickman told the Huffington Post in an update from his previous estimate of 480 million last week.

Why it matters: The fires have threatened Australia's wildlife, known for its rare animals and distinctive ecosystems. The environment was already imperiled by deforestation to support the country's growing agribusiness.

  • The scale of the damage remains unclear because of a lack of access to the burned areas and because it is difficult to document animal deaths, but scientists say "it is clear that the devastation is immense," per the New York Times.
  • Dickman explained that his earlier estimate was conservative and exclusive to the state of New South Wales — which he now estimates has more than 800 million dead animals alone.

What he's saying: "The original figure ― the 480 million ― was based on mammals, birds and reptiles for which we do have densities, and that figure now is a little bit out of date," Dickman told HuffPost.

  • "Over a billion would be a very conservative figure," he said of the deaths continent-wide, adding that the toll has exceeded 1 billion "without any doubt at all."

Zoom in: Experts say thousands of kangaroos and koalas have been killed on Kangaroo Island, off the coast of South Australia, of which one-third has been destroyed, per the Times. They fear the worst for the island's subspecies of cockatoos, which only had a population of 300–370 before the fires.

  • In a remote area of South Australia, aboriginal officials say they've approved a cull of up to 10,000 camels, as a drought has driven the thirsty animals to "threatening the APY [local government] communities and infrastructure," CNN reports.

Be smart: The estimated death toll is calculated by multiplying the number of estimated animals in a given area by the number of acres burned, according to Dickman.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 58 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 12,009,301 — Total deaths: 548,799 — Total recoveries — 6,561,969Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 3,053,328 — Total deaths: 132,256 — Total recoveries: 953,420 — Total tested: 37,532,612Map.
  3. Public health: Houston mayor cancels Republican convention over coronavirus concerns Deaths are rising in hotspots — Déjà vu sets in as testing issues rise and PPE dwindles.
  4. Travel: United warns employees it may furlough 45% of U.S. workforce How the pandemic changed mobility habits, by state.
  5. Education: New York City schools will not fully reopen in fallHarvard and MIT sue Trump administration over rule barring foreign students from online classes.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: A misinformation "infodemic" is here.

Transcripts show George Floyd told police "I can't breathe" over 20 times

Photo: Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Newly released transcripts of bodycam footage from the Minneapolis Police Department show that George Floyd told officers he could not breathe more than 20 times in the moments leading up to his death.

Why it matters: Floyd's killing sparked a national wave of Black Lives Matter protests and an ongoing reckoning over systemic racism in the United States. The transcripts "offer one the most thorough and dramatic accounts" before Floyd's death, The New York Times writes.

5 hours ago - Health

Fighting the coronavirus infodemic

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

An "infodemic" of misinformation and disinformation has helped cripple the response to the novel coronavirus.

Why it matters: High-powered social media accelerates the spread of lies and political polarization that motivates people to believe them. Unless the public health sphere can effectively counter misinformation, not even an effective vaccine may be enough to end the pandemic.