Animal victims of the Australian bushfires could be in the trillions, an expert has warned.
While a recent Australian estimate put the number at one billion, a British scientist says including invertebrates increases that number considerably.
Broadcaster, conservationist, and evolutionary biologist Professor Ben Garrod, at the University of East Anglia, said the loss 'can not be downplayed'.
"With currently over 18 million acres ablaze, the reality is that we have little idea about the true damage they will cause or to the full extent of their ecological legacy," said Prof Garrod.
"There is debate about whether half a billion or a billion animals have been affected but the truth is that by the time we include invertebrates as well as mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and birds, the total will conceivably be in the trillions.
"With approximately 85 percent of vascular plants and 80 percent of mammals found nowhere else on the planet, the importance of Australia’s endemic flora and fauna cannot be overemphasized, meaning its loss can not be downplayed.
"With habitat loss, reduced food availability and possible increased predation, the full effects of these fires will not be felt for months or years to come, but will certainly cause the extinction for some of Australia's most iconic, fragile and beautiful inhabitants."
The fires, which have been raging since September, have reportedly killed at least 27 people and more than half a billion animals so far. Experts warn they expect the blazes to continue for at least another month.
A fundraiser for fire services in NWS raised more than A$20 million in 48 hours to help tackle the fire.
If you would like to donate or volunteer to help with the fires, click here