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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million ― was based on mammals, birds and reptiles for which we do have densities, and that figure now is a little bit out of date," Dickman told HuffPost.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:

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Acting Capitol Police chief: Phone logs show Jan. 6 National Guard approval was delayed

Pittman at a congressional tribute for fallen officer Brian Sicknick. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Acting U.S. Capitol Police chief Yogananda Pittman testified on Thursday that cellphone records show former USCP chief Steven Sund requested National Guard support from the House sergeant-at-arms as early as 12:58pm on Jan. 6, but he did not receive approval until over an hour later.

Why it matters: Sund and former House sergeant-at-arms Paul Irving clashed at a Senate hearing on Tuesday over a dispute in the timeline for when Capitol Police requested the National Guard during the Capitol insurrection.

Manhattan prosecutors reportedly obtain millions of pages of Trump's tax records

Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Manhattan district attorney is now in possession of millions of pages of former President Trump's tax and financial records, CNN first reported, following a Supreme Court ruling that allowed prosecutors to enforce a subpoena after a lengthy legal battle.

Why it matters: Trump fought for years to keep his tax returns out of the public eye and away from prosecutors in New York, who are examining his business in a criminal investigation that was first sparked by hush-money payments made by Trump's former fixer Michael Cohen during the 2016 election.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

The digital dollar is now high priority for the Fed

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The U.S. is starting to get serious about a central-bank-backed digital currency, with recent comments from top officials laying out the strongest support yet.

Driving the news: On Tuesday Fed chair Jerome Powell told Congress that developing a digital dollar is a "high priority project for us," but added that there are "significant technical and policy questions."